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HUGH DELAHUNTY'S VALEDICTORY SPEECH TO PARLIAMENT - 16TH OCTOBER 2014

Mr DELAHUNTY (Lowan) It is great to follow the member for Essendon who at one stage played for Essendon. It is an enormous privilege and honour to be a member of Parliament. When I walked up the steps in 1999, I came in as a member of the opposition.

I was told then that it was probably a good learning curve and that you can learn a lot when you are in opposition. But I can tell you that 11-year apprenticeship was far too long. Being in public life for 26 years has been an enormous privilege, both as a local council representative and now as a state member of Parliament. I need to start by thanking a lot of people, because if I do not do so at the start I might forget and run out of time at the finish.
I thank my family: my wife Judie and the boys, now men. Judie is in the gallery today. She has been a rock, a fantastic confidant and adviser, but most importantly a great wife, mother and grandmother to our seven grandchildren. To my parents Frank and Kath, I am indebted to them, firstly, because I was born to them, and secondly, because they always said to me, 'Do not whinge outside the fence. Get over there and do something about it'. Whether it is in football terms or parliamentary terms, it meant getting inside this chamber and doing something about it.

I am proud to say that I have achieved a lot of things I wanted to do. I thank my five brothers and sisters who have helped and inspired me all my life. A lot of people know that Mary and I sat opposite one another in this chamber. There was only one other time that situation happened before, and it was in the very early days of the West Australian Parliament. A lot of people do not know about Michael, my brother, who is now the CEO of Echuca hospital. My first game of league football for Essendon was against Collingwood at Windy Hill in 1971 and we played opposite each other from different ends of the ground. My grandfather sent us a card saying, 'Best of luck to you both, I hope it is a draw'. And guess what? It was. It is interesting though that we put our families through a lot because we seemed to be on different sides of the fence all the time.

To my Nationals colleagues past and present, it has been a great journey, but particularly so under the leadership of Peter Ryan, who has been a dynamic, inspirational and fantastic leader for people in rural and regional Victoria.
I started off sharing an office with the then member for Shepparton, Don Kilgour, and I am finishing my career sharing the office of the member for Shepparton, Jeanette Powell, which is fantastic. To all my other colleagues in The Nationals, we have been a great team. It has been a small team but a fantastic team. I believe we have punched above our weight in a lot of areas. I particularly highlight the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund. It is not only delivering jobs across Victoria but is improving the lives of rural and regional Victorians.

I want to thank my ministerial colleagues, but first of all I thank the former Premier Ted Baillieu, the current Premier, Denis Napthine, and the Deputy Premier, Peter Ryan, for giving me the opportunity to be a minister. It was an enormous privilege and a great honour. As the member for Essendon just said, to be sworn in at Government House was an enormous thrill. We achieved a lot in those ministerial portfolios, and I think I achieved a lot as a local member.

I will touch briefly on some of those achievements as a minister.

We have continued the great work in the sports program with record funding in a lot of areas. Development of Melbourne Park was another real achievement. A lot of people do not realise that Melbourne Park is the third-busiest entertainment venue in the world. It is not only Margaret Court Arena, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena but a lot of other facilities are also used there. If you go to France and have a look at Roland Garros, you will discover that it closes down for 6 months of the year. By contrast; Melbourne Park is a hive of activity for 12 months of the year and hosts many major events.
To get major events to Melbourne and Victoria was also another thrill, whether it be Amy's Gran Fondo down at Lorne or the ironman event, starting down at Frankston with a 3.6-kilometre swim, followed by a 180-kilometre bike ride and a 42-kilometre run. To have those elite athletes here requires an enormous effort.

Also, for the first time in 19 years we got the women's open golf championship being held in partnership with the men's. We now have it as a joint event that has been going for three years at Thirteenth Beach near Geelong. There was also that fantastic match when Liverpool played here against Melbourne Victory. It was a friendly match, and to have 95 000 people attend was an amazing achievement. There were many other programs but, as a person who tries to play golf, presenting the two Masters championships to Adam Scott was a great thrill.

I also want to say a big thank you to my staff, particularly Joanne Bibby, who has been with me throughout most of my career as a parliamentarian, but also to Trudi, Dianne, Leanne and Cathy. As is the case for a lot of members who sit here, the staff who have been with me over that period of time are really the backbone of what goes on behind the scenes. They do an enormous amount of work supporting you as a member. I thank my Melbourne staff headed up firstly by Will Golsby, and it was great to have him here two nights ago, and also Darren Harris, Emma Staples, Fiona, Josephine and Shannon. They were an enormous support to me in my ministerial role.

I say thank you to my departmental staff headed up by Dr Peter Hertan and Susan George. There is enormous intellect and an enormous wealth of knowledge in both those people. In the veterans portfolio I had David Roberts and now Joshua Puls, who are doing great work, particularly as we go toward the centenary of Anzac. One of the great thrills and achievements I have had was working with the current Premier, Denis Napthine, to see the appointment of the member for Hawthorn, Ted Baillieu, as chair of the Victorian Anzac Centenary Committee, along with the appointment of the member for Ballarat West on that committee, as well as the ex-service organisations and Representatives. It is a very important time in the history of Victoria and Australia, and I encourage all members to get involved with their communities in relation to it. A lot of events will be held over the next four years.

I know other members have spoken about the fact you do not get any resources in opposition, and in opposition you do not.
I think we give a little bit more to the opposition today.

Honourable members interjecting.

Members can grizzle about it now, but I can tell them it was a lot less when we were in opposition. The reality is I was given enormous support by two people in Stephanie Ryan, who is a candidate for the new seat of Euroa, and Clay Manners. Both were an enormous support to me in my shadow ministry roles.

As the member for Shepparton has said, the drivers provide enormous support. We did a lot of kilometres on the road together, and I sometimes wish I had them now because Judie, my wife, has to do a lot of that driving. I thank Cathy Geddes and Andrew for their driving abilities. I felt very safe in the car with them. I thank the Assembly staff headed up by the Clerk, Ray Purdey.

All the clerks have been an enormous support. I particularly recognise Bridget Noonan as a young lady who came from Noradjuha. I announced her engagement in this house. She is very happy about that, because her future husband cannot pull out now. The reality is the clerks were an enormous support to me.

I also thank the library staff and the Hansard staff, headed by John. They all do an enormous amount of work supporting us as people. I thank the dining room staff; they put up with a lot in there. The staff around the Parliament are my friends. They are a great support to us as parliamentarians. The protective services officers do an enormous amount of work in supporting all of us in this place.

I return to talk about the parliamentary committees, and a few members have spoken about this.

I have been a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the Economic Development Committee, the Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee and the Electoral Matters Committee. The executive officers and staff provide enormous support. But it was also a really steep learning curve, and you make great friends on all sides of politics by being on committees. You learn a lot, and the learning process is a continuous one in life, and it is the same for all of us. But to those people I have worked with, I say thank you very much for the opportunity of working with you.

Going back home, I extend thanks to my campaign committees headed by Bill Ower and Greg Walcott. I thank them for their support in getting me into this place. To the many supporters and friends, and to The Nationals family, I say thank you for the opportunity to be in this place. I wish our Nationals candidate, Emma Kealy, all the best in the upcoming election on 29 November.She is a fantastic talent, and I hope she gets the opportunities I had to represent a great part of western Victoria in the Lowan electorate. As you know, Speaker, it is the largest electorate in the state -- 76 of the other 87 MPs could fit into it.

An honourable member interjected.

You have heard that a few times. I am also proud of my achievements, and I am particularly proud -- and I know the Premier uses these words -- that sport and recreation still drives me in my personal life and that I continue to follow my ministerial slogan of having more people more active more often.

I really want to finish off by saying to everyone in this place, thank you for the friendship. There are a couple of key messages I want to send. I came into this place and wanted to have respect. We need to have respect to do the work we do. We will not always agree with people. We will not always be able to do the things people want, but if you can hold your heads up high and have respect, you can walk out of this place like I will on 28 November down those steps that I walked up in 1999 feeling very proud of my achievements. Thank you for the opportunities.

LOWAN ELECTORATE

Lowan District MapThe Lowan electorate is the largest Legislative Assembly seat in Victoria, covering 34,540 square kilometres. It is a modern and progressive electorate, providing for the needs of a diverse population of people. The electorate continually strives to secure the future prosperity and quality of life of its residents.

The Lowan district stretches from the Big Desert in the north, to within 10 kilometres of the Southern Ocean. It encompasses the municipalities of Hindmarsh Shire, Horsham Rural City, West Wimmera Shire, Southern Grampians Shire, and part of the Moyne Shire, Glenelg Shire and Ararat Rural City.

 

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