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Christmas Message

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 24 November 2022

Tags: Parliament

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, it always feels like the last day of school, does it not? It is exciting.

It gives me great pleasure to rise on behalf of the Greens to say some words of thanks. To wish people warmth and goodness over the summer break. We have had a very big year. It is like this place hit 'refresh'. We have a new Premier, we have new ministers and new members, welcome. Welcome to you. It has been really interesting from a human point of view to get to know some of our new members in this place. The work of this parliament, is often heated, it can be very contentious, we can get stressed and really cranky with each other.

We need to acknowledge that this year the parliament has done some really good work. Obviously, the Greens are very happy that the numbers in the House of Assembly will be restored at the next state election. The apology that we gave two weeks ago to victim-survivors was the best of us. It was sincere and heartfelt., I have had a number of conversations since then with people who were listening, victim-survivors, families, people who love them and there is a deep appreciation of the apology and a recognition of its sincerity.

I guess it is in those moments when all of the House can come together around a common purpose and understanding that we are at our best. There are many challenges in the world now. It is a very small and finite planet. I think that as a society we are going to have to find a way to tap into the best of ourselves, without taking away from the long traditions of Westminister parliaments where ideas are hotly contested and different positions and values are held, but I think we have a real opportunity and responsibility to look for common ground wherever we can.

Members will know this, that when you are out in the community, if, constituents know, politicians from across parties are working together on something, it gives them a very good feeling on the inside. It is something that we need to be mindful of. I am not being Pollyanna about it but on the big issues, from climate to COVID 19, to the wellbeing of children and young people, I think we have a real opportunity and responsibility to find that common ground, at least in some debates, we can create that space where we can be constructively have a conversation about a substantive policy issue and, not necessarily agree on every point, but resolve to make something better by working together. I think people would really appreciate that.

One of the things, which makes this job bearable, even when it is volatile and hard and heated, is that we are able to talk to each other. I was reminded of this last night. It was a pretty hot day in here yesterday and a few of us were pretty keen to get out so Rosalie, Alice, and I raced to the doors with our gear. People up here were still talking. We got down to the foyer and Mr Winter was on his feet, putting the boot into Dr Woodruff and having a bit of a laugh about that.

Mr Winter - I wondered where you were!

Ms O'CONNOR - We were not going to sit in here and listen to it! We were standing there, ready to go and watching Mr Winter. Then the Premier rocks up and we started to have a chat. Rosalie asked him about Christmas. Then Elise walks up and then we had Ella, and so there was this tripartisan group of MPs desperate to get out of the building. So desperate!

There is a real unity of purpose in those moments, Mr Speaker. It is that about this place, I think, that makes it meaningful when we can step out of here, as the Premier said, and be kind to each other. In fact, it makes it bearable. If we could not do that, I think it would be cruel and unusual punishment at a psychological level.

So, I too want to thank all of the wonderful people that make this place hum and tick and function while we go about our jobs. Our wonderful Clerk of the House until the end of January, Mr Shane Donnelly, thank you ever so much; our Deputy Clark, Laura Ross, again, such talent; Stephanie Hesford, Sergeant-at-Arms; Fiona Murphy, who I see sitting over there, fourth Clerk at the table; Colleen Donovan, great character, very funny, very warm, great for a chat, who is the Personal Assistant to the Clerk; my beautiful friend of nearly 30 years, Allie Morrison, who I have known since I was a little smart-alec journalist, used to spend a bit of time here; Scott Hennessy; the ever-patient Charles Casimaty; Christy Lang, who says so much with her eyes; Kiah Charles, Mary de Groot and Mark Groom.

Thank you as always, Adrian Munnings, for the vital work that you do and Craig Thorp from the finance team; the Legislature General staff, Robert Wright, Anna McCarthy and Kate Duggan; our new facilities and services manager, Simon Munn, who I have had the pleasure of chatting to in recent weeks out the front there; the fixer, Brendan Boon; Shane Waterson, such a familiar sight here, always good for a hello; Gaye Batchelor and Angela McCreghan, thanks so much.

I would also like to thank the staff in the office of enlightenment, the education office, Kimbra McCormack and Colette Goyne and just reinforce what has been said in other contributions tonight about the delight of coming into this Chamber to pick up your papers and there are students in here and you get an opportunity to have a chat or watch what they are doing. It fills me with pride in this place that we are such an accessible place, but also hope in the future, when I see how engaged those young people are in the bright machinery of democracy. Our Parliamentary Library: thank you so much to Marijana Bacic, Deb Jenson, Helen Richardson, Sarah Ravanat, Sue Nolan, Crystal King and Louise Kemsley.

I also want to acknowledge Robyn Webb in the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. It has been very helpful and such a delight to work with Robyn and to be able to make sure that the amendments that we bring into this place are robustly drafted. The Greens remain very thankful that that service is now available to members.

The big brains in the Parliamentary Research Service, thank you to: Bryan Stait, Sandra Hennessy, Katriona Ross, Jane McPherson, Kate Roberts, Luke Vieceli and Jade Tran Huynh. Jade is quite amazing. Jade works in the research service. She works in the canteen and sometimes, when I go to Salamanca to buy lunch, Jade is working over there too. I am so impressed by that work ethic.

The other fixers in this building, are of course are Computer Services. Thank you to Peter Hancock for your patience and always for your support. On behalf of the Greens I want to wish you and your family a very healthy and happy Christmas, and to send our love and good wishes to Archie. The photos tell me that guy is a real little fighter. Also to Brett Godfrey, Chris Machin, Ben Hughes, James Sly, Jason Hergert and Rob Huck.

The lovely people in the dining room and bistro, Mandie Donnelly, Jacqui Kozakiewicz, John Glinatsis, the chef and Simon Hull, sous chef, Jo Smallhorn, whom I have a huge amount of time for. We have really good chats, Christine O'Sullivan, again Jade, Renee Hale and Jess Stewart.

The Hansard staff, who, while there are many, I am going to name every single one of them because they are the decipherers. The work that they undertake in this place is hard work. I really very much appreciate Hansard. Thank you to Helen Allmich, who any time I go in there and I have something I need fixing, I just want to have a chat about something, we have a good chat, Katrina Haig, James Reynolds, Harrison Palmer, Henry Rogers, Laura Cusack, Roey Johnson, Kaye Toohey, Anne Baker, Estelle O'Neill, Alanna Balcombe, Andrea Romero, Margaret Peters, Liam Stewart, Susan Hood, Anne-Maree Nuttall, Glenda Radcliffe, Talleyn Burch, Gaye Mitchell, Stella Beswick, Karen Cuzzocoli, Skye Dayal, Jenny Morgan, Andie Smithies, Loretta Thompson, Helen Moore, Margot Dawson, Christine Ward, Gabrielle Rish, Michael Dubois, my very good long-time friend, Kate Stewart, Katri Hilden and Damian Bester.

To those who keep us safe, the security team, the ever cheery Greg Phillips, a great sunny face to meet you in the morning, Saed, Ben, Tamana, Tammy, David, Kyriakos, Damien, Hugh; Manisha, Navila, Busha and Andrew. Thank you so much for the work you do.

I will wind up by thanking the beautiful people I work with in the Greens team. My partner in time, one of my great mates and someone I trust implicitly, Rosalie. Thank you so much. You make me feel stronger and safe in here. And also to our loyal, capable, clever and kind team who are green to their core. Alice - everyone knows Alice, Tom who is very shy and does not like it when I drop his name into the Hansard, Steve, Alex, Sophie, Millie and Sandy, and Dan Broom who was working with us for a little time this year.

To everyone here, thank you for stimulating debates, elevating our passions to fight for green values, lots of laughs. Thank you for the laughs and the warmth we can share when we are out of this building.

I thank our new Leader of Government Business for such a collegial approach to the role. It has changed the temperature in here in a positive way. Mr Street, you are very reasonable and I am sorry if this is going to cause you problems later. Everyone has a different style. Mr Ferguson in the role was very competent but you would not necessarily call him soft hearted when you were trying to negotiate something in the day so it could get a bit testy in here before then and still does, of course.

Mr Speaker, thanks again for not chucking me out too much this year. It could be a failing on my part rather than his. But Mr Speaker, I think you have softened as you have grown into the role or maybe we have and that is problematic. But thank you, Mr Speaker, for the steady hand that you apply to this place. I recognise that it is actually the hardest job in this place.

To everyone in here, take good care of yourself and of each other. I will see some of you in GBEs, which we always look forward to. But this place can be cruel and unusual punishment at times. We all need to rest and relax and get back to some of the things that matter the most on a human level, and that is the people we care about and the places we enjoy being. I look forward to seeing everyone back safe and sound in late February next year.