Page 806 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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Motion (by Mr Gentleman) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

The Hon Brad Hazzard—retirement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (6.15): I rise today to reflect on a colleague’s recent retirement: the Hon Brad Hazzard MP, who has served as a New South Wales Minister for Health for the past six years, up until the weekend and his retirement from politics at the recent New South Wales election.

I confess, Madam Speaker, it is not a usual position for a Labor minister to specifically take the opportunity to reflect favourably on a Liberal minister from another jurisdiction; however, Minister Hazzard has been an important part of my life for the past 3¾ years. Indeed, there are only two health ministers left who have been in the job since the start of the pandemic: the other being Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, a fine left colleague—an epithet that Brad is also quite at home with!

I did want to take this opportunity to reflect on a professional relationship and shared experience since I came into the health portfolio in July 2019. The six years that Brad was health minister is but a fraction of his 32 years in the New South Wales parliament—an incredibly long career in which he spent all but a few years on the Liberal Party front bench, including 12 years in government. He brought a wealth
of experience, and, at times, frustration with the pace of change to health
ministers meetings.

Brad was a tenacious advocate for state and territory health systems, often leading the charge against the former federal Liberal government's cuts and never holding back against colleagues from his own party when his state's interests were on the line. Brad did not pull his punches publicly or privately regarding what he saw as detrimental decisions being taken by the Morrison government and the pressures it put on public health systems around Australia. He also led the push to tackle the huge challenge of vaping and e-cigarettes. Prior to COVID-19 and right the way through to his final health ministers meeting in Brisbane on 24 February, he never let it slip off the radar.

Brad is a progressive—not always aligned with the majority of his own party and certainly not its more conservative elements. In 2019 Brad co-sponsored a bill to decriminalise abortion, and more recently he was instrumental in steering voluntary assisted dying laws through the New South Wales parliament. As the ACT is an island within New South Wales, my personal working relationship with Brad has been critical. He was always a willing partner and a good comrade—which he appreciated as an apt description!—who sought to be fair and equitable in our dealings. I am sure the former ACT health minister, Meegan Fitzharris, would say the same.

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