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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 3 May 2007) . . Page.. 983 ..

I would like to assure the Leader of the Opposition that this issue has been attended to. I am sorry that he was misinformed and felt the need to make his adjournment speech yesterday. However, these issues have now been satisfactorily resolved to the benefit of all parties. We look forward to the Australian Rugby Championships and the success of the Canberra Vikings in 2007.

Senate—South Australian representation

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.03): A few hours ago the houses of the South Australian parliament had a joint sitting and selected Mr Simon Birmingham to represent that state in the Senate following the tragic passing of Senator Jeannie Ferris. I want to place on record my delight at that decision. Simon Birmingham is a good friend. He was my public affairs manager at the AHA national office and will be sworn in on budget day as Australia’s newest senator.

Up to the last few days, Simon has been the director of stakeholder relations for the Winemakers Federation of Australia; he has served as corporate affairs manager for the Liberal Party in South Australia; he was chief of staff for the former Liberal South Australian Minister for Tourism; and, as I have mentioned, he was national manager of public affairs for the Australian Hotels Association. Earlier in his career he served on the staff of Senator Robert Hill, a former minister who is now the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations.

Simon is a person who has made tremendous contributions to the Liberal Party organisation in South Australia. He is a brilliant performer—an articulate and talented media performer. He is well respected by a broad cross-section of people in the Liberal Party. He won a lot of national recognition when he was a candidate for the House of Representatives seat of Hindmarsh. He narrowly missed out—I think by about 100 votes. He was a candidate for Hindmarsh in the 2004 election. He lost by 108 votes as a result of Greens preferences, making Hindmarsh the most marginal seat in Australia. Simon was recently selected to be the No 2 candidate on the Liberal Party South Australian Senate ticket, but because of the death of Senator Ferris he will now take up that position ahead of the original plan.

Mr Birmingham becomes the third person in the office to enter Australian politics. The first was Jacqui Burke, who was a former employee of mine; the second was me. It is good to see people move on and develop their careers. Interestingly, this week a fourth member of the office also received a senior appointment. That was Mr Birmingham’s predecessor. His political direction is not one that I am as enthusiastic about, but he is a close friend and a very capable person. I refer to Mr Daniel Leesong, who was also my public affairs manager. This week he has become chief of staff to the Tasmanian Premier, Paul Lennon.

I want congratulate both gentlemen on their success. We would prefer to have Mr Leesong on our side of politics but we do not have the positions down in Tasmania there to attract him to our employ. I am sure he will be a very capable chief of staff. I am particularly pleased to say that I think Simon Birmingham will be one of Australia’s most outstanding senators once he gets his feet under the table.

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