On Monday June 24 he gave his valedictory speech to the House of Representatives, and it made me weep. He is an incredible man and an incredible politician, and I am truly sad to see him leave the public service. We will be poorer without him in the public sphere. We need more people with integrity and honesty and the determination to continue with humility when things don’t always go their way.
If you haven’t heard, he’s retiring at the next election.
His final speech to the HoR can be seen here: http://bit.ly/11KetCo
Now that is a speech. That’s how you do it people. Be gracious, be honest, be kind but speak truth. Take responsibility for your actions and strive to do your best, despite circumstances around you. Don’t make excuses, make choices.
Harry has been a politician for 27 and a half years, an incredible achievement! Given what our politicians have to suffer through, that is a milestone to be celebrated. He’s been the federal member for Scullin (the electorate next to where I grew up) since 1996, and spent 3 and a half years as the speaker of the House of Representatives from Feb 2008 to Nov 2011.
I can’t write about Harry without a compilation of ‘ORDER’s.
I had the pleasure of meeting him in 2011 when I spent a week at Parliament House (which I’ll be doing again in October!). He was so nice, just as I knew he would be. They say never meet your heroes, but in this case I was not disappointed. I got to watch him in action for the week (while he was speaker) and was nothing but impressed. He had a difficult job in a difficult climate, yet always handled it with grace and maturity, with a side of humour.
One of the things I really hate about Australian politics is the level of disrespect we are constantly bombarded with. So many of our politicians are excessively rude to each other, and by extension the public they are meant to be serving. It’s called ‘public service’ for a reason. In a sea of immaturity Harry has always stood out to me as one of the good ones, one of the ones I wish others would emulate. He is passionate, easy going and funny, but never mean.
I am probably (as far as I can tell) Harry’s biggest fan (apart from those who actually know him). This is making me sound creepy now I realise, but it’s not like that. I just think that he’s one of the best examples we have in this country of a truly good politician.
He’s in it for the job, not for the public eye. Notice that he’s rarely in the media. He does interviews when it’s appropriate, but he doesn’t seek the limelight. That’s why I think he doesn’t have as many staunch fans as he deserves. Here is one of those rare interviews after he stepped down as speaker:
I’ll end now by saying that the point of this post is to pay tribute to a man I think doesn’t receive enough credit for being a truly wonderful politician, and doing excellent, selfless things for our country over a long period of time. Thank you Harry.
I leave you with a parting quote of his:
“I go placidly, with my humour intact. I wish you all well”.