End of year speech (valedictory)

03 Dec 2020

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (17:09): It is my pleasure to say a few words. I will not go through too many people individually because that has happened a lot already; suffice to say, my support of all those individuals is certainly there. But there are a few things I do want to say.

We know about 2020, and of course we think about COVID, but let me just remind everybody that 2020 started in drought, and then we had bushfires and then the drought was still going on, and then we had COVID, and then the drought was still going on. Thankfully, the drought is not still going on. It is not right to think that all primary producers are out of difficulty, because it takes a fair while after it stops raining for people to really be in the grip of drought. It takes a fair while after it starts raining—if you are lucky enough, hopefully it keeps raining—before you are out of the grip of drought.

There are certainly still plenty of challenges and so, while we still do wrestle with COVID-19, there are people all over our state wrestling with lots of other challenges as well, and for some people those challenges are compounded. I am sure all members will be thinking of people who are in these sorts of difficulties, particularly over Christmas and into the new year.

It has been a tough year, of course. No more needs to be said about that, but we have learnt. We have learnt so much. The world will never be the same. In some ways, we will miss some things, but in some ways it will be better. We have learnt and learnt, and we have learnt in South Australia, I am sure, better than just about any other place in the world because South Australians have contributed so much so willingly. What the member for Playford was saying about his electorate would be true of every single electorate.

We know that we have had the least number of legally enforceable restrictions in South Australia of just about any jurisdiction in the world, but we have also had the highest compliance with advice and suggestions and recommendations of just about any jurisdiction in the world, and those two things combined have, broadly speaking, left us in an extremely good place.

Could it be better? Yes, of course. Would we be better if we had not had a recent cluster outbreak? Yes, of course. But compared with the rest of the world we are actually doing pretty well. In fact, even looking at Victoria now, which thankfully is out of the grip of COVID it seems—and our challenges are slightly greater than Victoria’s right now—I think if you go all the way back to January and February and consider the whole year we have done a lot better than just about anybody else in the world.

We have to take what we can out of this. We have to take the learnings that come out of this and we have to apply them and make sure that South Australia, and Australia, is a better place for the challenges. I really genuinely thank all South Australians, particularly those in the electorate of Stuart I represent, for the great work they have done.

I do genuinely appreciate the leadership that all members of parliament have shown. Of course, I put the Premier and some very key public servants and the Minister for Health on a slightly higher pedestal because they have had greater responsibilities, but I believe all members of parliament in South Australia—Liberal, Labor, Independent, crossbenchers and the other chamber—have all led to the best of their ability with regard to the people they represent, and I thank them all very deeply for that.

I work with an outstanding group of government colleagues—absolutely genuinely outstanding. We are not shy about sharing views openly. If we agree with each other, we say so; if we disagree, we say so. We really have developed over the past 2½ nearly three years a very effective way of working with each other, which I think is the strength of our government. The Premier is an extraordinary leader. The Deputy Premier shares a role in that and supports the Premier extremely well, and I acknowledge the Treasurer and others. Our group is very strong, and I really do thank my colleagues for that.

I thank those opposite for their friendship. I think I have a good working relationship at the very least with just about everybody on the other side of the chamber, and certainly with some people on the other side of the chamber much more than a good working relationship, and I thank them for that.

Our whip talked about being new in the job. If you look at our Deputy Whip, our Speaker, our Deputy Speaker and our Leader of Government Business, only one person has actually been in the job for a length of time and that is the Deputy Speaker. We acknowledge that we are learning as we go. We are happy to learn as we go and I think we are learning pretty quickly. We would not be doing as well as we are, though, at whatever level that is, if it were not for the help of the Clerk and his staff. They have been outstanding to us in regard to sharing as much advice as they possibly can. I genuinely thank the Clerk and his key people for that.

This is a pretty extraordinary place to work. I have been here coming up to 11 years and I can tell you there is never, ever a day when I walk into Parliament House that I do not think, 'Goodness gracious, how fortunate am I to be part of this, to come here to work, to contribute to this.' It has never worn off. I do not believe it will ever wear off. I know that most members feel exactly the same way.

It is that way in part because of the grandeur of the building, because of the extraordinary furniture, because of all that we see around us, the history and the beauty, but it is even more so because of the people who work in this building and support us. I cannot thank the people who support us enough. I am not going to go through individual names. Whether it is Hansard or building services—if ever there is a time when a light bulb actually goes out and you ask for it to be fixed, it is done really quickly.

We are looked after extraordinarily well in this building with regard to advice from attendants, with regard to catering, building services, Hansard, the police security services that are provided, the library, whatever it happens to be. There is nowhere in this building where a member of parliament asks for some help or support or for something to be done that they are not treated incredibly well. I thank all the people who do that and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I do not think there would be too many workplaces in the world where people are treated as well as we are in this building, so thank you very much for that.

I do want to talk about my own staff. I put an enormous amount of effort into choosing who I work with and I put an enormous amount of effort into how some other people I work with choose who they work with. I am not saying for a second that I have actually interviewed or chosen every person. The people in my team, and my broader team, know the type of person I want to work with. They know the type of person I want all of them to be working with. I have absolutely extraordinary people.

There is never, ever a day when I am here in Parliament House that I am not thinking about my electorate or about the people who work in our electorate offices in Port Augusta and Kapunda. I said I would not name names and I will not, but let me tell you from the bottom of my heart that the people in my electorate office are absolutely outstanding as people, as friends and as electorate officers—absolutely genuinely outstanding.

Our team here in the ministerial office—and I am not only talking about ministerial advisers or chiefs of staff or the other people who might technically be departmental staff or public servants in another way—is very good. We have a good working relationship and we have good friendships. The team that is closest around me, my Chief of Staff, my advisers and my EA, I would go into war for those people. They are very good people and they are very good at their work. That is the kind of people you want to be with.

I am driven to do the best I can in my work in many different ways, but one of them is to repay the effort, the skill and the contribution given to me by the people with whom I work. I want to repay them by making sure I do not ever waste it, making sure that I do them justice, whether it is electorate staff, whether it is ministerial staff, whether it is administrative staff in our office, or whether it is my colleagues here in government.

I will wind up and say: bring on 2021. The year 2021 will be a better year than 2020 without doubt. It will be much better. We all deserve time with family, time with friends, some downtime. We will all be doing a lot of work through the summer period as well, but we will get a bit more time away from work than we normally do throughout the rest of the year. Bring on 2021!

I wish all members and all staff in this place, in the electorate offices and in the other offices which support us, a healthy, safe, relaxing and fun Christmas and new year period. Come back refreshed and ready to go. Next year, the race to the election begins as well. We all deserve a bit of an opportunity to recharge our batteries because next year is going to be a biggie. Thank you, Mr Speaker.