It’s a privilege to second this motion to nominate the member for Newcastle and to endorse and echo the sentiments of the member for Dunkley. I was fortunate that at the start of the last parliament I got to sit next to the member for Newcastle in the chamber, and given it was the start of my time in parliament, and as a former journalist, I very much took the view that there were no stupid questions when it came to trying to work out what was going on in this place. It’s a mark of the member for Newcastle’s fundamental decency and patience that she answered all of these questions, and she didn’t request a seat transfer—at least as far as I know!
It also became clear how deep her understanding is of the workings of this place, as well as her respect for it as a democratic institution. Her understanding is drawn from her experience in this place as a member, as a member of the Speaker’s panel and as deputy chair of numerous parliamentary committees. Her respect encompasses an awareness that this will only be an enduring democratic institution if we as a parliament meet the best of community expectations. I know she will bring this respect to her work from the Speaker’s chair. I cannot think of anyone more appropriate to drive the work that’s been set out in Kate Jenkins’s Set the standard report to improve the culture here and ensure that this is a safer workplace for women, and to make sure that as a parliament we don’t miss this moment to set the high standards and to follow through on them. The member for Newcastle has already demonstrated her capability in this regard by driving change within the Labor Party and putting in place standards, policies and procedures that we never had before.
The member for Newcastle is incredibly diligent. Many evenings when others of us here are socialising and debriefing from the day, she’s in her office finalising one of those many committee reports or following up on an issue on behalf of people who have asked for her help. She consistently works on behalf of people who have not historically been heard in this place: First Nations people, women, the people whose lives were devastated by institutional violence, to name just a few. Her community know her as a fierce advocate for their interests. She is a trusted colleague and I know she is respected by many in this place. And, when she can be dragged away from her work, the member for Newcastle is excellent company and a lot of fun. Mr Speaker, there could be no finer choice, on character, on capacity, on qualifications and on experience.