17th November 2022
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (18:30): In the same way that Independent members have been bringing adversaries together in this Chamber for some years, so too does the harmonious joy of the Christmas period. Before I go on, I send the best of wishes to our communities in regional New South Wales, who are doing things particularly tough right now. We stand with you, and we stand with your representatives in this House to do whatever we can to assist, as we have always done as a community. In particular, I mention the member for Barwon, the member for Murray, the member for Orange and the member for Wagga Wagga on the crossbench, whose communities are doing it particularly tough at this time.
I also acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke, who I believe has seen more flood-stricken communities around New South Wales this year than any of us can believe or would like her to have to. You have been a credit to this Parliament in you ministerial role, and I thank you. I also acknowledge the larger-than-life Minister for Health, and member for Wakehurst, Brad Hazzard. We will not forget your efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and the decisions you have made that undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. Brad, you will be missed. I thank and acknowledge the member for Balmain, Jamie Parker, who will be leaving this Parliament. I have enjoyed our friendship and collaboration, and I know that is a common, if not unanimous, sentiment across this House. Jamie, congratulations on all that you have been able to achieve during your time here. You have left this place much better than it was.
The past year has been an extraordinary one for me and the crossbench—which has grown remarkably, I must say. We just draw people like moths to a flame; the crossbench just grows. I must thank the many people who are critical to our ability to represent our communities. In my case, I start with the people of Lake Macquarie, who by definition make my job what it is. I am sure that goes also for the communities in the electorates of Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Murray, Balmain, Newtown, Ballina, Orange and Barwon. We are proud of our communities and all strive to serve them as best we can. I am not here to speak for my friends in The Greens, and I will be listening to the member for Newtown soon as she gives her felicitations.
On that note, we thank the Government and the Opposition for working with us on various endeavours, and we look forward to continuing that when we hopefully return in the fifty-eighth Parliament next year. To Premier Dom Perrottet and Opposition leader Chris Minns, I thank you and wish you well for your respective campaigns over the next months. I personally thank my friend and colleague the member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich—he was not expecting this—who, with our staff Jason Gordon and Tammie Nardone headed significant reform this year, most notably the voluntary assisted dying legislation. I thank the many Ministers and members who assisted us with this important reform in New South Wales. I also thank those Ministers and their staff who have helped us meet numerous challenges, as we progressed through the past four years. I must also thank the Government Whip's office, including former Whip Adam Crouch and now Nathaniel Smith. I put a big call-out to Vivienne. I know everybody benefits from Vivienne's assistance.
Leader of the House Alister Henskens and his Opposition counterpart, Ron Hoenig, have been excellent to work with, and they have worked together with us very honourably. However, we all know that the heavy lifting in the Leader's office is done by Thomas Ryan and the lovely Adelaide Cuneo. If they are still keeping their list, they can give themselves another tick each, and one extra for you, Adelaide. To you all, thank you so much.
Nothing here works without the Clerks: Helen Minnican, Carly Maxwell, Simon, Jonathon and John along with all their staff, including Ian Delahunty, Chris, Peter, Monica, Haley, April and Lubo. I thank Mr Speaker for his leadership and the opportunity to serve as part of the Speaker's team, first as a Temporary Speaker then as Assistant Speaker. I wish you all the best in future. The Deputy Speaker Leslie Williams, along with the Temporary Speakers—the member for Sydney, the good member for Upper Hunter who is in the chair, David Layzell, the member for Wallsend and the member for Heathcote—have been exceptional to work with. I thank you. I thank Paul Blanche, who is the Speaker's Chief of Staff, Shu-Feng, and Jodie, who are members of the Speaker's staff. I also wish to acknowledge, of course, the Hansard staff, who do an amazing job and who are just always there, helping us look so much better in the printed record. I wish to thank all our committee staff. I wish to thank security and catering—with a special call-out to Kylie Cook in Café Quorum!
It was brought to my attention earlier that this is in fact my 800th speech to Parliament—not as many as others because I am not as loquacious as others, but I wish to place on record again that, like all my colleagues when dealing with complex issues, my team do a fantastic job, without the resources of a big party machine. I again thank Jason Gordon, Belinda Pevey, Kim Williamson and Alex Freeland, along with Madeleine Mckell and Trudy Craig, who assist, and Dianne Sykes, who retired earlier this year after serving as my Senior Electorate Officer for 15 years. As this year has again shown us, we face some very difficult challenges in coming years, and no doubt unexpected challenges will also emerge. It is indeed my hope that the Fifty-Eighth Parliament is up to meeting
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