Wednesday 25 June 2020
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Member for Rosevears – Retirement
President's Statement - Member for Rosevears
Mr PRESIDENT - Honourable members, before the Council adjourns, this is a very special occasion - it is the last time we will be joined by the member for Rosevears, as he is intending to retire, or that was what he told me this morning. We have had a tribute to the honourable member previously. I welcome the honourable member's son, Adrian, and Kerry's granddaughters, Mila and Frankie, to the President's Reserve. Welcome to the Chamber. They are all very proud of their pop and are here to hear members' kind contributions.
Member for Rosevears - Retirement
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I might give the member for Rosevears a little bit of time to gather himself. I have seen this happen before, Mr President - he needs a moment to gather himself.
My contribution is a very brief contribution on adjournment to acknowledge the extraordinary service of Mr Kerry Finch, independent member for Rosevears, in this place. He will be a loss to this place. He retires and is leaving us. We will have a chance to talk more about that aspect when we have a bit of a roasting later on. I am lucky enough to be participating in that.
I just want to wish him all the best. It is a huge achievement, 18 years - I have been here 15 - so 18 years, it is a long time. We will talk about some of the member's history perhaps later tonight. It is an honour to have served with him. I thank him for his friendship and his camaraderie. Some of the pranks, yes. We will talk about some of those things later on.
I commend the member for Rosevears' commitment to doing the best at all times for his constituents, and also for the state of Tasmania. All the best. It has been a pleasure, most of the time. We really appreciate your commitment.
I also wish the member for Huon the best for his upcoming election as well; it is always a stressful time.
I want to wish the member for Rosevears all the very best for his retirement. We look forward to chatting more after we adjourn.
Members - Hear, hear.
Mr DEAN (Windermere) - One could not let this occasion go by without identifying the great service this man has given to this state and his electorate over the last 18 years and a few months, in fact. He has always been a great contributor in this place and has been extremely articulate. I have tried to follow him from time to time but I have not been anywhere near him and I am not likely to be able to. A lot of his ABC background comes out in his contributions in this place. I thank you, Kerry, for the positive discussion you and I had a few days after I announced I was going to have a look at this place. You might not recall it but we had a discussion in your office about things that were happening here, what to expect and all of those things, so I thank you for that because it helped me, moving forward.
Mr Finch - If only I had known.
Mr DEAN - I have not forgotten.
Mr Valentine - We have you to thank.
Mr DEAN - In making a few statements tonight, I do not want to give too much away because I will be speaking shortly at another function and I do not want to pass on too much of that. It is great to see Adrian. It is great to see Kerry's grandchildren here as well, welcome. It is great to have family present on an occasion like this.
Kerry, you have been very strong in your presentations and there were times when you were on a high and it was not always a wise idea to interrupt you. I learned that very early in the piece, as a learner in this place. I still had my learner plates on and I remember interrupting Kerry on one occasion when he was on a high and was being very strong in his presentation and he looked at me and he said, if you think you can do better, you come up here and do it, or words to that effect. It really set me back and I thought, oh, what have I said, what have I done? If it happened now I might get up, but certainly not back then, not in those times.
Kerry and I, it is fair to say, we have had our differences in this place and I think we all do, but the one thing that we have been able to do is to put that behind us when we have walked out of here. We have retained, and I hope this is right, Kerry, a good relationship and a good friendship for a long time. I am going to miss that but you and your family will be welcome back to our place and the offices at Launceston at any time, and welcome at my home as well, in fact.
Kerry has been a great contributor. There has been no doubt about that, an assistance to me and a lot of members in this place. It is wonderful to know that. This is a time when it is going to be extremely emotional for Kerry. It is going to be a very difficult time for him as well. He is putting behind him a large period of time, when he has served or contributed to this state, with the ABC and over 18 years in this place.
All of a sudden, to find yourself moving into another era has to be a huge challenge, but Kerry will enjoy a long, good, healthy and happy retirement, and we wish the same to Kerry and Carole's whole family, that they will have a great time to enjoy life together. I am sure Brian is going to appreciate your retirement, Kerry. Thank you and congratulations for what you have done for this state and country.
Members - Hear, hear.
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - I think we have done this before. I remember we did this back in May.
Mr Willie - Kerry planned that.
Ms ARMITAGE - He did. Two bites at the cherry. It is lovely to see your family and your grandchildren here today. I am quite sure, Kerry, you will have some wonderful times with your grandchildren now that you have more time.
Ivan, Kerry and I share an office in Launceston and we are almost like a little bit of a family there. Sometimes we argue, sometimes we get on. There is one thing I will say about you, Kerry, if you are asked for some information or help, you are always willing and I think that is really great. It does not matter what time, you are always prepared to give some advice and information. Even in the latest thing we have been discussing, it is really good that you can ask Kerry about an issue you might be dealing with or something you are looking at. You are never too busy and you always take the time. I think that is something that is really nice.
It is nice to have that relationship in Launceston. We do share an office, we do not always vote the same, sometimes we do. We often do not agree but it does not make any difference. As Ivan said, when it is over, that is over and you move on to your next issue. I do enjoy Kerry's orations sometimes when he thumps the lectern -
Ms Rattray - And raises his voice.
Ms ARMITAGE - He does, but it is good. Sometimes, life in the Chamber can be a little bit dull but Kerry can bring a little bit of life to it. A bit of theatrics is often quite good. It is appreciated. I am not going to go on, I am sure people want to make some comments. It is lovely to see some of your family here. I am not sure whether Carole is going to be overly delighted to have you home all the time.
Mrs Hiscutt - She might pack his lunch and send him off to work every day.
Ms ARMITAGE - I am sure she is very pleased when he comes to Hobart. I always remember Greg Hall saying that the power that be there was always very pleased when he was heading to Hobart.
Ms Rattray - The head of the war office.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, the war office. The war office was always glad to see him head down when parliament was sitting. She knew where he was and what he was doing. It is like my husband looks and says, I know you are in the Chamber, I can see your legs. It is interesting that some people do watch us in parliament.
Ms Forrest - Some people are sad, aren't they?
Ms ARMITAGE - It is pretty sad, when you retire and you had such a life that you need to have a look at parliament.
Ms Forrest - There are quite a few who do, actually, you would be surprised how many.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, and see what you are doing. Look, you have made a great contribution, Kerry, and 18 years is wonderful. The really nice thing is that you have decided when you felt ready to leave. That is really important. It is great that you have been able to stay as long as you wanted. As you said only earlier, you feel comfortable now. You have done everything you wanted to do, you are ready to leave and you will not have any regrets. I think that is really great. I wish you, the family, and particularly Carole, all the best. See how it goes, but well done.
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - This is going to be tougher than I thought, with the kids here. It is a real surprise but great to share. Mr President, thank you and fellow members for your kind words about me from several weeks ago and the reprieves. I am happy to have this opportunity for my final speech, face to face. Last year I announced that I would not stand for the 2020 election to give independents, particularly, the opportunity to establish their teams, to get out in the community, establish their credentials and have the best chance of being in the mix on election night, which we now know is 1 August. I felt it was time to bring a fresh face, you would all appreciate that, and fresh energy into the Chamber. It is the right time for me, too, after 18 years, to move onto the next phase of my professional life. I am not thinking of it as retirement.
I commend, also, all the candidates on the way in which they have had to deal with this interruption caused by the COVID-19 global health pandemic - it must have been very, very frustrating for them during this time. My best wishes go to my successor. I trust that person's journey will be as enjoyable as mine. Best wishes to the member for Huon in his campaign to return.
After a little over 18 years, I am the longest serving current member of parliament, referred to as the father of the parliament, and I was asked whether there was ever a mother of parliament. I said, just stay tuned, there has been one in the British Parliament. I will talk more about women in parliament later. Whilst I have become known for my current role and my media career, so much of who I am can be sheeted home to pretty humble beginnings in Ferntree, on kunanyi/Mt Wellington. What would those people of my childhood, let alone Mum and Dad, think of me being portrayed here as number 725 in the Long Room? Unbelievable. An honour.
I was the youngest of six children and life growing up might have been viewed as not easy by outsiders. My Dad, Clive, served in the Navy for 12 years from 1932, the Depression years, through the Second World War, and returned home in 1945, damaged, as were many. We lived with that reality as a family. Those challenges, I believe, add to your strengths, your resilience, your understanding that hurdles can be overcome. Mum, Beryl - Jo, as we called her - was able to forge a family life for us despite adversity.
But life was like that for the baby boomers and their parents. We were not Robinson Crusoes. Interestingly, growing up in Tasmania at that time gave me a sense that I could be whatever I wanted to be. Isn't that interesting? I always felt that if I wanted to be the prime minister of Australia I could do that. It was up to me. That would be a mindset that I would like to instil into every young Tasmanian.
I clearly remember as a 13- or 14-year-old not concerning myself with ambition in any way, but wanting just to be a personal success. I wanted to be happy about who I am. That would have been the reason why I was hired for my first job at 7HT. Bruce Klein, when I was departing after five years to travel and broaden my horizons said to me, 'You know, Kerry, when you applied here there were 40 people applied for this job. Did you know that?', and I said, 'No, I didn't'. He said, 'You know what made you stand out?', and I said, 'No.' He said, 'You were the only one without ambition.' Isn't that interesting? I think it was because I would have said what I have just told you, that when asked as a 15-year-old, 'What do you want to be?', I said, 'Well, I just want to be a personal success. I just want to be happy with me.' I will talk more about 7HT soon.
I followed in the footsteps of Errol Flynn by going to Macquarie Street Primary School, passing the ability test, as it was then, and going on to Hobart High School. The headmaster was C. Dwight Brown. He was a wonderful educator. When he came to an agreement with me that I should leave the school, he said, 'It's between you and me, Kerry, and I like it here!' He told me that he was at Hobart High with Errol Flynn when he was expelled at 15 for dropping two eggs from the landing of the quadrangle onto the headmaster's lectern below as he was conducting an assembly. I did not emulate that, but that was the final straw for Errol Flynn.
So, here I am at 15, down to the CES for the offer of three jobs - one which was a control operator at 7HT Hobart. I said I will take that job until something better comes up. I was not cocky or anything; that was just the way it was then. Jobs were not an issue for young people in the early 1960s. We were leaving school and getting jobs straight away. But it is not something, of course, that you would recommend for today's youngsters. I am very pleased all three boys made it through to year 12 with our encouragement and on to university.
My early mentor at 7HT was Barry Furber, an excellent broadcaster. He ran an announcing school and he instructed me, 'Don't try to be anybody else, don't try to be something that you're not'. It was good advice.
Another lesson that has served me well, particularly when I nominated to stand for Rosevears, was reinforced at my first gathering of my team of friends who had gathered all from all walks of life and all political persuasions, just friends to come and be my team. Two came out of the woodwork to offer help: journalist Mike Howe - who I have mentioned in the House - had retired from the ABC; and Phil Martin, who, at that time, was head of news and current affairs at SBS television based in Sydney. He flew down for that first meeting. When I sought advice from the gathering, because I was really a novice, I was not a student of politics, both of those gentlemen said, 'Be yourself', and that helped to relax me. I then thought, yes, I can do that, because I am not going to try to be somebody else.
History shows that I was elected in 2002 ahead of eight other candidates, so the new learning curve begins. I did not really see myself as a politician - more as a parliamentarian and a representative of the people of Rosevears. As an Independent I could keep an open mind on issues until I heard all the arguments. There is no point in making up your mind until you have heard all the facts and the ramifications. If you lock yourself into a position, whether you do it through the media or publicly, you will not hear from those people in your electorate who have a contrary position to you. You have to give them that chance.
The big issue which began not long after my election was the pulp mill. It was to pervade my career for the next 10 or 12 years. I was not opposed entirely to a pulp mill in Tasmania; close loop, chlorine-free, it had a pretty good ring to it. Rather, I was opposed initially to the government and Gunns moving away from the RBDC process and bringing it here through parliament, and then the issue of the location in the Tamar Valley. 'Do a plan B, put it at Hampshire', was my mantra. At one stage I delivered the largest petition ever presented to the Tasmanian Parliament of people opposed to the location - 21 360 signatures. Whatever you do, don't try to beat it because the staff have to count and verify every signatory.
Ms Forrest - That would have been before e-petitions, too.
Mr FINCH - Quite a job, absolutely. David, our Clerk, is shuddering at the memory of it.
As a follow‑on, later we spent four years on the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, which attempted to draw together all the players in the forestry industry. Some of you will remember the part of the debate when the member for Huon moved a motion to send the result off to committee. Sitting over there, I had had an absolute gutful of the issue, so divisive for our Tasmanian community, and I spoke vociferously against the motion. I was very lucky because I was sitting there, steam coming out of my ears, and luckily the member for Mersey got the call. He was the first to speak and it gave me a chance to stop my heart beating out of my chest. When I got up I still was vociferous but it helped to calm me down a modicum.
It was interesting because I said, during that short, sharp speech, that if the committee gets up I would not be on it. Well, it got up and I had a break. In the January everyone else went through that political process and it was a very strange process for me to be at home knowing that there was work to be done. Suffice to say that we do not have a pulp mill and we have a restructured forestry industry which offers a different future.
In 2006 we had the Beaconsfield Mine rockfall when Larry Knight died, and Todd Russell and Brant Webb were rescued. That unfortunate event put Beaconsfield on the map around the world, particularly for the stoicism of the mine people and the community, and has resulted in the magnificent museum at Beaky as a tribute to the mining in the area and that event. As we have recently heard it could be mined again - the allure of gold.
One of the special debates here was the Same-Sex Marriage Bill in 2012 to 2013. I was happy to stand up for the principles of tolerance and a fair go. Social justice has been a very big theme of my work here with support for the civil relationships bill 10 years ago, anti-discrimination, expungement of criminal records, and support for gender diversity. For me, no-brainers.
My election in 2014 against a candidate who strongly opposed the marriage bill showed that people of Rosevears and Tasmania agreed with those values. 2014 was a demanding but very interesting campaign. One of the reasons was that my opponent signalled a challenge in November so it was a long campaign. Carole and I put together a letter for distribution. We wanted that distributed to as many households as possible. We printed and folded 15 000 of those and we personally delivered 10 000 door to door. I posted it on social media - some of you may have seen it - a photo of the shoes I wore during that campaign. The holes were right through the soles of those shoes, but it was a bit of a badge, it was good.
As was mentioned at the declaration, I won the pre-polling votes, the postal votes, and every booth in the electorate - even Agfest, where all the heavies of the opposing party person were on display.
I have always been supportive of the Indigenous community and reconciliation. There are strong recollections for me of the Cape Barren handover, one of Jim Bacon's visions and fulfilled by Paul Lennon. Chairing the inquiry into the handover of larapuna and Rebecca Creek was an honour and was always going to be difficult, and that is the way it worked out. Then there was my desire to rename my electorate to kanamaluka. What a good name. That is the palawa kani name for the Tamar Estuary which covers the length of my electorate from Launceston to Bass Strait. It was unsuccessful and very disappointing for me. Rosevears is simply a hamlet where the Rebecca was built that Batman and Fawkner took off to found Melbourne. It is an historic moment but people think I live at Rosevears; people think I represent the people who live in Rosevears, just Rosevears itself. So, it is a little source of frustration and I think kanamaluka would have been symbolic and would have been a terrific name. It is easy to say and easy to spell.
I presented speeches here and I recently gave my take on the Uluru Statement from the Heart. There is a line that resonates with me -
Don't think about losing 200 years of your history; think about sharing 60,000 years of our history.
Well, we are moving slowly towards reconciliation but out of little things, big things grow.
There was the sadness of Vanessa Goodwin's passing. I remember calling on her when I wanted to discuss elder abuse. She made the trip to Launceston as attorney-general to meet some of my constituents, and we had a long conversation about that. Another time we had problems with wombat mange in Narawntapu, on the West Tamar. She came to investigate, spent half a day with us, and secured a grant for the people at Kelso who were working on the issue. Vanessa, as you know, worked quietly on issues, not banging the drum or pumping up her own tyres. There is a raft of words to describe the type of person she was. We know the quality she had. She was an exemplar for the work that we do and the type of people we need in parliament to set an example of how we should conduct ourselves. We are very low in the trust levels when assessed by the public.
Don Wing and I reminisced recently about how special she was to work with, and recalled our trips to investigate our select committee inquiry into tourism -
Mr FINCH - Laugh though you may, she was wonderful company, particularly on the trip to New Zealand. Which, I might add, was very fruitful to our report. It was no junket. We had terrific access to the tourism bureaucrats in New Zealand who reported to the then minister for tourism, who was their prime minister. Many of the recommendations we have put in place have come to be.
One particular memory was being in Wellington at the same time as Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard. Vanessa found out where she was staying and she was excited. She wanted to catch a glimpse of her as she returned from the New Zealand Parliament. So, there we were, Vanessa, Don and myself, we were like three groupies. We were sitting on a bench waiting for her car to arrive. It did, we just saw her go into the hotel and it was too quick for us to call out to her. We missed a really great moment. It would have been a great chat. Vanessa was happy just to see her. With the very human and down to earth way she conducted herself, Vanessa set the bar very high. We will not always reach the Vanessa bar, but it is a good thing to strive for.
My parliamentary mentor was Don Wing. What an independent exemplar he was. He was the president here for six years from when I first arrived. I recall his frustration during those six years at not being able to represent his electorate fully on the Floor of the Chamber. And how, when he decided to relinquish the position, he spent the next three years doing exactly that as a wonderful Independent, and with that lawyer's mind and the experience he had in his kitbag it was wonderful to watch. A great example to us.
Now that Don has gone from the Chamber and I am about to go, I think it is pretty safe to tell the story of a very special night here featuring the Scottish group, Fiddlers' Bid, and the former treasurer, David Crean. The six-piece Fiddlers' Bid from the Shetland Islands were in Tasmania for Ten Days on the Island and were staying at Wrest Point. Don stayed there too. In the lift he met them, invited them to come to Parliament House the next night for dinner, and bring your instruments. Most of us gathered in the Dining Room and not only were we entertained by them, but also a good old country song or two by David Crean. He loved entertaining, he loved an audience. We adjourned to the President's Rooms, but because David had access to this Chamber, in we came. Fiddlers' Bid gathered up there –
Ms Rattray - The Clerk is still here.
Mr FINCH - I am giving you some ideas, folks. They played their traditional Shetland fiddle tunes whilst we relaxed and soaked up the atmosphere that this theatre provided. We behaved. Imagine how sunny it was, I think the lights were taken down a bit. Then that music wafting through this Chamber was out of this world. They were absolutely world-class entertainers, but very unassuming, wonderful company.
The celebration, of course, did not continue here, it continued back in the rooms. It was really quite hilarious when, the next morning, the Usher of the Black Rod - we are standing here, still all with a glow on about the wonderful night that we had had - and the Usher of the Black Rod stood at the door and said, 'Honourable members, the Deputy President.' We were all left wondering what fate might have befallen our beloved host. But he has assured me time and time again that it was a faulty alarm clock back in his bedroom! As I say, that music was out of this world and music that subsequently was heard all over the world.
There has been so much committee work to detail here, which I will not do. One highlight for me was as Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Community Development. When the member for Murchison initiated those Government Administration Committees, much to her credit, there was often a reference to the problems of combining the two Houses for committee work. But I can say to you that it was not a problem for me, as Chair of the community development committee, even when, at one stage, I had Cassy O'Connor, Brett Whiteley and Brenton Best as members of that committee. What a mix! They were terrific in that setting, and they were productive; we were productive as a committee.
That is not decrying what we have now. I appreciate the committee work that we do. I never objected, I never spoke against it, I just was happy to move on and give the new committee work a try. It has worked. Another would be my select committee inquiry with Don Wing and the member for Windermere into the statutory management authority for the Tamar Estuary and catchments. It did not get traction then, but it has been put under the spotlight lately.
Mr Dean - It is still being referred to.
Mr FINCH - Yes. But suffice to say a lot of committee work, always enjoyable, and albeit at times challenging.
Mr Valentine - Finding your way to hearings?
Mr FINCH - That is one of the problems!
Constituent work has always been a high priority for me. Medicinal cannabis, palliative care, wombat mange, West Tamar Highway safety - the highway safety, but safety generally. I have always been a passionate supporter of the tourism industry, the health of the Tasmanian devils, and the Deviot landslip issue has been close to home. Of course, I strongly support the arts community, and education in all its facets. My connection with the sporting club for people with disabilities, New Horizons, has been a very important part of my parliamentary and personal life.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has always been prominent in my thinking of the enhancement of our roles here, whether promoting, being on the executive, or representing the Tasmanian Parliament in Australia and overseas. The highlight, of course, being that wonderful trip to Westminster for the 100th celebration of the CPA. The theme was Women as Agents of Change. I presented a speech with that title at the conference. We had a slow start to female representation in Tasmania after Dame Enid Lyons went to federal parliament in 1943. Two women, Amelia Best and Mabel Miller, were elected to the House of Assembly in 1955. We now elect women to all tiers of government as a matter of course. I am very proud that we were the first parliament in Australia to have over 50 per cent of female representation. Voters of both genders trust women candidates now and we must encourage women into politics and elsewhere in the Tasmanian community where important decisions are made. It worth noting too that of the six candidates for Rosevears, four are women.
Improving public health has been a focus and I particularly enjoyed supporting Dr Gary Fettke and his concern about our intake of sugar through his website No Fructose. A low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet was his push - get into it, way to go. Agreed, Mr President?
Mr PRESIDENT - Absolutely.
Mr FINCH - Thanks must go to the many sporting clubs that have included me as a board member, supporter, patron and spectator. The Launceston Football Club, Launceston Little Athletics, the Tornadoes, Bridgenorth Football Club, the Three Peaks Race, the Birralee and Districts Pony club and so many more.
Another momentous development in Rosevears was the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre. We were the beneficiaries, being the first in Australia, and it has been a huge success story for us. I was pleased to be involved on the committee almost from the get-go. I came on board when we missed out on the mine disaster money and the committee was then able to convince the federal Labor government of its need. As I say, the first in Australia and to go there now and witness what is being achieved is just wonderful for our community.
Being a representative of the community has given me some great opportunities in promoting our talented people. Most notably, this was achieved through the Tasmanian talent team, which comprised Don Wing, the indefatigable Susie Clarke, Di Bucknell, my EA at that time and myself. We sent Di Brither, John De Jong, Tom Ward and Ben Austin to the World Expo in Japan 15 years ago and then assisted pianist, Ben Austin, a remarkable pianist, and countertenor, Nic Tolputt, with the most incredible voice you will ever hear. We helped them with their individual music careers. Sportspeople include boxer and world champion Daniel Geale and Commonwealth Games weightlifter Jenna Myers, and through the Exeter RSL community and sports club with me as patron, we have assisted a lot of promising young sportspeople to travel around Australia for competitions.
Last year was made very special for me with my appointment as the parliamentary representative on the Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize, which is a wonderful involvement between the RSL and the Education department, taking six grade 9 students to the Western Front in Belgium and France to embrace the history of World War I, Australia's contribution and the aftermath. One thing from that trip, and there were many, many things to remember, that stood out in my mind was that first day of the Battle of the Somme. British troops suffered 57 470 casualties and there were 19 240 killed - 37 sets of brothers died that day, day one. Terrible.
Those six young people, the two teachers, our RSL representative, our leader and our guide were of the highest order and will be forever in our collective thoughts. I must also highlight the honour I have had to organise and be the guest speaker at the ANZAC Day ceremonies at the Exeter RSL for about the last 15 years, it could even be longer. Thanks to president Arthur Kingston and his committee for allowing me to do that. I very much enjoyed coaching the leadership group at Exeter High in public speaking, to be our junior guest speakers each year at Exeter and Beaconsfield for ANZAC Day, the dawn and the 11 o'clock services.
One point I must make, too, in coming back here to parliament is the benefit of electorate tours. They have gone off the radar a bit lately. I have always found those tours most beneficial in broadening our understanding of what is occurring in other members' electorates around Tasmania. I would encourage members who have not organised one to find out how it is achieved and it will pay immense dividends for you in your community connection. Those with experience, particularly the members for Murchison and McIntyre, have organised a couple apiece. They know -
Ms Rattray - I have had three now.
Mr FINCH - Greedy. They know how it works.
I could not pass this opportunity without reflecting on the special interest speeches. When I first came here I looked to see where I could project my electorate, my special people and myself into the Chamber. I felt the obvious one was through the special interest speeches. Since I started on them I have only missed one in 18 years and that was the day of my heart attack. I had to phone the member for Hobart to present my speech and to host the family who had travelled south for it to lunch. It was Michael Booth of Riverside, you might remember? He was the first Tasmanian to run a marathon on the seven continents of the world, including Antarctica, and it was to promote organ and tissue donations as a tribute to his daughter, Alison.
I am so pleased that others have now recognised the value of the special interest speeches and supported that increase of presentations from four to six, nearly always full now. I record mine, as you know, and post them on social media and share with the people that I talk about. It is a great way to promote the more human side of the work we do in the Legislative Council and to salute our electorates and our people.
I am going to wrap up now, Mr President. First, by repeating what Don Wing said here on his departure. It has been an honour to be part of the Legislative Council family. Thanks to my friends from all walks of life and political persuasions, who supported me during my campaigns in 2002, 2008 and 2014. We are coming together on election night 2020 to reminisce. When I was first elected, Tasma Howell guided me but only for a short time. She came from a time when she was the EA for six northern members. It was 0.6 of an FTE in 2002, and over time it was increased to one FTE and that was a blessing for us all.
Diane Bucknell was with me until 2014, a good friend, then I have been lucky to have Suzie Somann-Crawford as my EA. Thank you to those people for running my office so brilliantly as I would like it to be run, as friendly and warm. I have had tremendous assistance from my very special friend, Mike Howe, and his daughter described him at his service recently as the erudite intellectual. He was terrific. Jim Anderson, the esteemed Launceston lawyer, was a guiding light with his wife, Bunny, until a couple of years ago, and thanks to my technical supporter, Ross Somann-Crawford.
This is where it gets hard, by mentioning names and worrying about inadvertently leaving someone out. Sufficient, I hope, to thank our unflappable and solid Clerk, David Pearce, and all the excellent staff you have with you, David, who support us so generously with their friendship, their courtesy, support, care and management during our time here.
Our Hansardpeople, who will be relieved of the duty of chasing up my quotes. The Library and research staff, always on call with the best timely and accurate information. The catering staff, both in the dining room and the bistro, with the legendary Mandie Donnelly at the helm, and our often unsung heroes downstairs in the IT department, with Peter Hancox, always helpful.
During my time there have been four outstanding presidents, each with their own skills, knowledge and passion for the job: Don Wing; Sue Smith, our first female president; our all-round good bloke, Jim Wilkinson; and of course, our gregarious Craig Farrell, notably the first president from a political party. That is a feather in your cap, sir.
To my constituents of Rosevears, thank you for trusting the novice who put his hand up in 2002, and enabling me to grow as a community representative in state parliament. I have always felt welcomed, safe and accepted for what I have tried to achieve for the betterment of your lives in Rosevears, in our special part of Tassie, the West Tamar, and for Tasmania generally.
The future, well, it is about Carole. I am going to be her carer, it is her time. I have said to you, and I have started practising it during the pandemic, that I have turned my life over to her. Her call is what I do. She has given me that opportunity to have a lot of freedom during my media and political career. I have never had a handbrake. Now, it is my time to give to her and the family, Brian, Adrian and David, and more quality time with my grandchildren. We have four now and one more on the way, up on the Sunshine Coast. These two champions won their cross country yesterday; they are pretty proud. We have that to share. We will be sharing a lot of Little Athletics with the kids, as we have done over the past couple of years.
Shoring up my superannuation is going to be an issue with our property development in West Launceston, to stop us being a drain on the public purse, of course. That has taken 10 long, hard years. If we want to talk about planning - far out! The hurdles and the hoops, you know, it has been a long journey. But we have had a breakthrough and we are ready to proceed with that. It is timely because I can take that on.
And of course, reflecting on the enriched life in Tasmania, that Tasmania, Tasmanians and its people have given me. Thank you for that. Thanks, colleagues.
Members - Hear, hear.
Mr PRESIDENT - Thank you very much. I am sure we all pass on our best wishes to you, Kerry, for your retirement. Thank you very much for the work that you have done for the people of Rosevears and the Parliament of Tasmania. You have been a tremendous member. It is going to be very, very odd the next Tuesday that we have that there will be no special interest from the honourable Kerry Finch. It is going to take some time to get used to that.
I am sure we will keep that going. Every time we have a special interest matter people will think of you and will miss the 'thank you very much, Mr President' delivered so beautifully.