Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland) (18:30): Firstly —and briefly—to Senator Bishop, I have not served with you here for any length of time. But, as your name has been mentioned amongst colleagues, they have treated your character with great respect. It is often when those conversations happen without you— and particularly in this place in opposition—that you can take that with you. You are very well regarded, and I wish you and your wife the very best. I can see that your service to this nation will continue through another prism, and I wish you the very best in your retirement.
Whilst I have so much to say about Senator Boswell, I realised that time would not allow that. So I have afforded my chance to speak to Senator Boswell’s beautiful wife, Leita. Whilst it is my voice, it is Leita’s words that we will hear for the next couple of minutes:
“Love” was the instigator of Ron’s life into politics spreading across some 50 years. It was our love for one another and our marriage that started the journey.
My father, Bill Beattie, was a fruit and vegetable grower, later becoming the then Chairman of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers. He was an active member of the then Country Party.
The very first political activity that Ron and I attended together was when Dad was awarded Life Membership of the then Country Party.
It was Dad and I who mentored Ron into the understanding, ethos and structure of the then Country Party. Now it is Ron who mentors others.
Ron joined the Country Party in 1974 and like everything he does became fully involved at every level. We both remain committed to the Party— although with a changed name, some 40 years on.
His passion outside of his immediate family, Cathy, Stephen and me and competitive yachting, was to advocate the needs of small business and fruit and vegetable growers to government.
With our blessing, he was a candidate for the 1982 Senate election, taking his seat in 1983 when Cathy was 15 and Stephen 13. Since then we’ve supported him on 6 separate occasions as a candidate for the Senate, and more generally with 15 Federal campaigns and 14 State campaigns. We truly were and are his “true believers”, his cheer squad, and unofficial advisers.
Stephen as a young lawyer had a big role in helping Ron with his advocacy for small business. He explained to his father, the intricacies of the then Trade Practices Act—particularly Section 45 D—and the meaning of ‘unconscionable conduct’ in the context of small businesses.
Across the 31 years, we have not measured Ron’s political life in the number of speeches, deputations, meetings, visits to towns and communities or the extensive advocacy work but in terms of our family milestones—exams passed, graduations, jobs secured, yachting, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, weddings, the birth of three darling grandchildren, Tom, Sophie and William, and, the tragic loss of our beloved Stephen to Heaven.
Like all husbands and fathers involved in the Parliamentary Service of our State and Nation, duty frequently calls them away at the time of special occasions. And, there have been many such occasions when Ron was elsewhere and we wished he was with us.
Although absent, we knew that wherever he was in rural and regional Australia, whatever he was doing, it was a worthwhile cause. Likewise, Ron knew that the family always stood firmly behind him.
The political journey is ending—and for us, it is with pride in Ron’s role as a Senator for Queensland. We, Cathy, Kent, Tom, Sophie and William and I, proudly, lovingly and sweetly welcome Ron home.
But, I suspect, that the inner eye of the champion and competitive yachtsman will espy another challenge. In this case I will not be the instigator. Whatever it is, we will love and support him.
They are Leita’s words, Ron.