Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:02): I also want to place on record my admiration for my friend and Queensland Liberal colleague Russell Trood, and express my sadness at his untimely passing. It is always difficult in these condolence motions to follow speakers of eloquence like my leader, George Brandis. George made a wonderful speech at the memorial service last Friday, which I was privileged to attend. Not only was George's speech so eloquent; it was so personal. I know George and Russell were very close colleagues, friends and confidants and, perhaps at times, conspirators in the rough-and-tumble of Queensland Liberal politics in those days. Curiously, just before Christmas I was cleaning out a drawer and I came across a slip of paper in a pair of trousers that I obviously had not worn for several years. On it there was a how-to-vote ticket with Russell Trood's name on it. His name was in a group in bold, and I do not think that was the group I was actually supporting at the time. It was an internal how-to-vote card that I had picked up from someone else.
I always thought that I was a far better politician than Russell was, but, without doubt, he was a far better parliamentarian than I was. I enjoyed Russell's company but was sometimes overawed by it. My case on an argument is one line and perhaps raising my voice, so it was always difficult with Russell—he always spoke softly, but always had an argument and the facts and the knowledge that made it very difficult to interact socially.
Mr President, at the memorial service on Friday—and this is about Russell, not about people here—your contribution was also so moving and accurate. The contribution from our former colleague Michael Ronaldson was also very appropriate. In my own very limited way, I want to pay my respects and offer my condolences. I particularly remember Russell in the 2004 election campaign, which George and Brett Mason and Russell ran. They travelled all around the state of Queensland, and, on occasions, senators not up for election travelled with them. I know how close George, Brett and Russell became during the campaign. I was delighted to always make sure Russell was introduced as the senator who actually gave the majority to the Howard government at that time. There was another senator from another political party who—sometimes inadvertently, I am sure—used to claim that credit, but it was actually Russell Trood who did the hard yards, did the nail-biting at the end of the count and actually gave the Howard government that quite unique win in the 2004 election. It is unique, and Russell was very much a part of it. I was not directly involved myself, but I know that he and George and Brett would have been agonising over the strategy and getting the then Prime Minister to write that letter. Russell would have been a very great contributor to that most momentous and exceptional event in the political history of Australia.
Others have related stories and made comments that I will not even try to repeat or better, other than to say that I agree with them all. It is sad that I lived in the north of Queensland, not in Brisbane, so I did not see a lot of Russell, but we made contact just a couple of months before his sickness was diagnosed. He came to see me about a matter related to the live cattle exports ban and particularly the Indonesian element of that. He was very involved with Indonesian activities—with the Australia-Indonesia Institute, with the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. I am sure that if he had not got sick that would have been an area where he would have extended his already high knowledge and involvement—all for the good of Australia and Indonesia.
To Russell, I say rest in peace, and to Dale, Phoebe and James, I extend to you my condolences and those of my wife, Lesley.