With the 43rd Parliament now at an end, it isn’t long until the political careers of some of its longest-serving members end, too. The final speeches of politicians freed from fear of the ballot box make for an intriguing read. Here’s the final batch of valedictory speeches …

Rob Oakeshott — Independent Member for Lyne, NSW

“‘Well done, Prime Minister.’ Julia, I also hope you got my text and I hope you do not mind my mentioning it. About 10 minutes before a party room ballot last night — we all get a bit of a sense of what is going on in the joint — I sent the then Prime Minister a text that said her father would be proud of her …

“I probably have to mention the ’17 minutes’ thing. Look, I own it. When others stood back I stood forward. That was an incredibly difficult time in Australian political history …

“I do not resile from those words spoken in that 17 minutes.”

Stephen Smith — Member for Perth, WA, and Minister for Defence

“I cannot, in all good conscience, say to the people of Perth that I can continue — win, lose or draw at the next election — for another three years. Twenty years I can do; 23 years I can’t…

“I have always followed, with Jenny [Macklin], my mother’s adage that there is always someone worse off than you and your job in life is to give someone a helping hand. I have never let her down when it comes to a ERC submission about those people who do need a helping hand. I cannot look at her; she will make me cry …

Tony Windsor — Independent Member for New England, NSW

“I have great regard for First Dog. We get it daily. He has an incredible mind … First Dog on the Moon; a great man. I bow down to him in every respect …

“I thank you, Prime Minister, because with that experience behind us the 17 days — and then the 17 minutes — was a very interesting time. I thought it was a valuable time …

“But the tragedy of this Parliament, if there is one, is the refugee issue. I think we are all guilty. Let’s hope that we can do a bit better across the political divide on that issue.”

Barnaby Joyce — Senator for Queensland and Leader of the Nationals in the Senate

“Much to the disgust of so many of my colleagues, I supported David Hicks getting a proper trial. I strongly believed, and I was guided by my mother, that a person deserves their day in court, that we cannot abscond from the legal process …

“If you have a belief that you strongly hold, that might not be the belief of the colleagues beside you, it is your right — in fact, it is your duty — to stand up and say something about it and to express your view. If you do not, you are letting yourself down and, worse than that, you are letting your nation down …”

Peter Garrett — Labor Member for Kingsford Smith, NSW, and Minister for School Education

“I will not come into the House and quote my own song lyrics, that I will not take the opportunities that are afforded to people who have celebrity status and use that to advance either the causes of the government or the political party that I have come here as a member of …”

“Let’s just face it — it is a no-win situation being environment minister. Fifty per cent of the Australian population wanted me to do much more and the other 50% did not want me to do anything at all. So there we were in the middle.”

Peter Slipper — Independent Member for Fisher, Queensland, and former speaker of the House of Representatives

“I sought to be an independent speaker in the Westminster tradition, beholden to neither side, and I was prepared to stand at the next election as an independent speaker on the basis that occurs in the United Kingdom, where the speaker is not opposed at the election by the major parties. I wanted, as all speakers do, to be the best speaker in Australia’s history …

“I remember when Inge and I got married about seven years ago: I made the traditional groom’s speech, looked to Peter Costello and said, ‘The next prime minister is in the room.’ I should have been looking at the next table, where Kevin and Therese were sitting. I was right, but I was looking in the wrong direction.”

Barry Haase — Liberal Member for Durack, WA

“We now have a chalkboard instead of a blackboard, for fear of offending the non-Caucasian, and children are no longer ankle biters, in case we upset dog lovers. Non-Caucasians can no longer call us ‘whities’ and people of another religion can no longer call us Islamophobic when we do not want burkas worn in banks. Hang on a minute! Of course they can. Do you see anything wrong with the picture? Minorities and the ‘speech police’ are taking over, and we are letting it happen.”

Gary Humphries — Liberal Senator for the ACT

“Over the last 24 years, I have voted in divisions and on the voices in accordance with the whips’ direction approximately 55,272 times. That is a lot of loyalty. I have a perfect attendance record in the Senate; I have never missed a day of the Senate sitting. And I have only ever missed one division in this place in 10 and a half years. OK — it was for the sale of Telstra, I admit! But nobody is perfect.”

Tony Crook — National Party Member for O’Connor, WA

“Whilst on apologies, I need to apologise to my father as I have not succeeded in getting tawny port on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. I did try with Minister Plibersek, as I am sure the minister can attest …

“I also leave this place disappointed and concerned where WA’s GST will fall …”

Sharon Grierson — Labor Member for Newcastle, NSW

“Following the 2001 ‘Tampa election’ when I joined this place, I said that the insecurity that many Australians felt about their own future had made them harden their hearts to the human suffering of others seeking asylum on our shores. That has been so difficult to change …

Alby Schultz — Liberal Member for Hume, NSW

“I have had the good fortune to meet some very interesting and wonderful Australians who have, for different reasons, become very close family friends. This is going to surprise a few people here because my background is a poor working-class background …

“One of those two women was Gina Rinehart, a wonderful and successful Australian much maligned by the chattering class, bigoted class-warfare politicians and the bottom end of Left-wing journalists ensconced in and beyond the Canberra commentariat.”

Joanna Gash — Liberal Member for Gilmore, NSW

“I was there the night Kevin Rudd was ‘knifed’ and, dare I say it, for a moment I felt for him as a person. But, as they say, ‘that’s politics’. My question is always: is it? To witness the mayhem when unionists broke down our front doors and many inside were hurt, schoolchildren witnessing the trauma of seeing people carried out on stretchers and the destruction created inside the Great Hall area and surrounds, is that politics? To me, it is un-Australian.”

John Forrest — National Party Member for Mallee, Victoria

“For the nation to maximise its potential, then, efficient infrastructure is the key.”

Patrick Secker — Liberal Member for Barker, South Austraila, and Opposition Whip

“Being the youngest of eight children sitting around the kitchen table, I soon learnt to take an interest in what was happening around the world and soon learnt to be competitive in the debates and arguments I put forward. It stood me in good stead for this place.”

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