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Speech: Thank you, Senator Rachel Siewert!

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 25 Aug 2021

Rach, before I joined this Greens dream team in the Senate, I had heard about a Senator Siewert from others who had met her. I had heard about her fierce advocacy for marginalised people, the environment and oceans. The forced adoptions inquiry is one in particular that so many people and so many women I met were so thankful to you for.

But, Rach, what I had heard pales in comparison with what I actually saw. Rachel is a powerhouse full of heart, passion, and compassion. But she also does know how to crack the whip—figuratively, of course. I tell you, keeping us unruly mob in line is no easy task, but in our party room we are all scared of not following Rachel's instructions as the whip. Weirdly enough, I will really miss your whip crack.

Rachel, you are also one of the hardest-working people that I have ever come across. You must surely have a few clones running around helping you out. The depth and breadth of work that you do in the party, in parliament, in committees and with communities seems humanly impossible, yet you do it every single day.

One of the things that I've appreciated most about you, Rach, is your total no-bullshit attitude inside and outside this chamber, in the party room and outside it. This is so refreshing in a place where politicians spend so many hours honing their message that the substance often gets totally lost. I can't tell you how inspired I've been when you've just jumped to your feet and blasted the government, not just once but again and again, for their punitive policies like the cashless debit card, or their lack of support for the disadvantaged, or when you spoke out about the illegal debacle that was robodebt, which harmed so many people, or when you called the abolition of motions an act of political bastardry. There are countless examples. You are never in doubt about where you stand, Senator Siewert. I cannot tell you how much I have respected your honesty and forthrightness even when, at times, it may have been something I didn't want to hear.

It has been an absolute privilege and an honour to work with you, Rach, over the last three years. You're such a formidable force; you stop at nothing in your fight for some of the most vulnerable people. I will sorely miss you in the Senate. Sixteen years is a bloody long time to serve your community and your party so diligently and with such integrity.

In your first speech, Rachel, to this chamber, in August 2005, you described yourself as the fourth in line of determined Green women from the west. You said:

At the heart of our Green values is a vision of community—a community that extends beyond the borders of our neighbourhood, suburb or state; a community in which people care about each other and the future of our planet and act carefully and responsibly to ensure its ongoing success.

Well, Senator Siewert, you have left no stone unturned to push for this vision to become a reality. You have made us all so proud to be part of the Greens movement to change the world to be a better place for all. From the bottom of my heart, Rach, thank you, and all the very best for this new phase in your life. We love you.

HANSARD LINK

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