Valedictory - Senator George Brandis

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (19:02): I'm going to be sorry to see George go, but I do look forward to cheaper accommodation in London in the future! George, I join others in thanking you for your service to Australia, to Queensland, and particularly to the Liberal Party and to liberalism. I've often said publicly and privately that I've always had a sort of love-hate relationship with George, which George has sometimes been offended at—to think that there could be any part for hate. But the words 'love' and 'hate' are probably not accurate words. I have a great admiration for your intelligence, your intellect, your eloquence and, in the last few years, your genuine leadership in this place and elsewhere. Those things really make me admire you and all you've done.

On the other side, we have at times had our differences of opinion, particularly in the earlier days of the Liberal Party—it started off closely together and then faded for a little while and has come back. But it is tremendous to see you achieve everything that you've set out to achieve. I know there are many people waiting to speak to you more convivially after this, so I do want to be much briefer than I would perhaps like to be.

George has always exhibited qualities that I could never achieve and, in some cases, wouldn't want to achieve. There is his eloquence, his exquisiteness and his intellectual ability. He is ambitious, capable, gifted, clever and a genuine liberal.

Those qualities are the ones that I will remember George for. He was never really a man of the people. I mean, Campari and soda wasn't the drink of preference in the Longreach hotels. But George—as I think he told us in one preselection—actually came from the wrong side of the tracks and had a very humble beginning. So all of those qualities have come together to mean that, for me and many others, George is a person of quality who we will never forget.

I just want to briefly say that your work on reforming national security laws was fantastic. It is something that perhaps people won't really understand or recognise, apart from those involved in those areas. Indeed, every Australian who is safe as a result of your work will perhaps never recognise that. I had the honour of chairing the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee through George's time as leader and as Attorney-General and I saw a lot of the work that George actually did there, and a lot was never made terribly public.

I did, George, at times try to help you. You mentioned one particularly significant Senate inquiry that we were both involved in. There were others, as members of our opposition tried—unsuccessfully—time and time again to destroy you with different inquiries. But, as I knew you would, you sailed through them. I know that on all occasions you acted honourably and honestly. I did try to help there.

I also assisted you in your first ministry, George, as you might remember, when you were appointed sports minister. Although I knew that you didn't need a great deal of assistance with that, I was instrumental in encouraging you to take on Jason Costigan. There is nothing about sport that Jason doesn't know about, and I know he was of particular help to you, in his own inimitable way, in your very first ministry.

Others have spoken at greater length and far more eloquently than me about George. I, of course, endorse all of those sentiments. I genuinely will miss you, George, particularly in this chamber. I'll miss the confidence you gave all of us in a political crisis in this chamber. The way you dealt with many opposition attacks at question time was just a joy to hear. At times I'd almost pay money, for entertainment value, to come and see how you handled some of those. We will very much miss that.

Lesley asked to join me in wishing you well. We wish you all the very best in your future, and we certainly hope our paths will cross at some time in the future.

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