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Motion: Farewell to Mark Parnell MLC

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: With some sadness, I move:

That this council—

1. Notes the upcoming retirement of the Hon. Mark Parnell MLC after 15 years of service to the people and Parliament of South Australia;

2. Recognises his role as the first member of the Greens to be elected to this parliament; and

3. Wishes him well in his retirement and the years ahead.

I shall use the privilege of being the mover of the motion to be the one who sums up, with concluding comments after the Hon. Mark Parnell has spoken.

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Mr President, I rise, unusually, to sum up comments, knowing that there will be an encore tomorrow of this debate due to one of the passions the Hon. Mark Parnell has, voluntary assisted dying, going to a second reading vote, hopefully later on this particular sitting day. I understand that tomorrow we shall hear more from many members in terms of the valedictories for my colleague.

It is well known that the Hon. Mark Parnell is Wikipedia famous for setting a record filibuster in our parliament's history, with an eight-hour contribution to voice his opposition, then as the sole Greens member, to the changes to WorkCover and the reduction to injured workers' payments.

He also, though, has achieved many things in this parliament. He secured a quarter of a million dollars for consumer advocacy in the setting of water pricing and protection for tenants when their landlord does not pay their water bill. He has also, as I have noted, championed voluntary euthanasia many times over many years. His expertise and knowledge in planning law I think are second to none in this place and the other. He has used that expertise to great effect in making outstanding and positive contributions to our legislation.

In over 15 years in parliament, the Hon. Mark Parnell's continued advocacy for equality and human rights and pushing for changes that protect the Greens shared values of promoting unity within our democracy—and our four pillars of environmental sustainability, social justice, peace and non-violence and, very importantly, grassroots democracy—has enhanced our democracy. As he noted, he changed the upper house voting system to provide that option for preferential voting, putting preferences in the hands of punters rather than the backroom preference deals of the preference whisperers and the backroom boys, promoting power to the people.

He has also had the deepest respect for the environment, for promoting cleaner industries and, notably, supporting solar power in South Australia. He has helped make South Australia a renewable energy powerhouse. He stood very much at the forefront of the campaign against building an international nuclear waste dump in South Australia—a proposal well and truly I hope now very much dumped itself.

For a long time the Hon. Mark Parnell has supported renters in their rights to have safety in their homes and security in their tenure while also ensuring that landlords meet the minimum property standards and ensuring that housing is for people and not for profiteering. He successfully passed a climate emergency motion, a declaration of this upper house. He promoted recognition from climate scientists and the voice of the community in that debate here in this council. He has pushed for legislation to protect cyclists by implementing the legislated distance of one metre or more when overtaking on roads up to 60 km/h.

He has done so many things in his 15 years here. That filibuster I think is probably one of the most well-known parts of Mark's work. Other than being the bloke with the beard from the Greens, he is well known for his ability to speak and be good on his feet. Our state party director has reflected on that WorkCover filibuster and, in the words of Dominic Mugavin, I would like to share with the council just how our Greens members feel about the wonderful leadership of Mark Parnell:

There are lots of good stories I could tell about Mark and his time in parliament and in the party but here's a good one.

Famously, Mark spoke for over 8 hours in opposition to a Labor Government bill that cut payments to injured workers. When people ask him about his speech he denies it was a filibuster. He maintains to this day that he was relaying important information to the parliament. He told parliament stories of injured workers. He gave them a voice in the debate.

I like this story because it shows a few of Mark's great qualities. It shows he takes principled stands and has a firm commitment to justice. It shows he's not afraid of hard work. It shows he is committed to being a voice to those often without a voice. It shows his humility.

Commitment to justice, hard work, being a voice to those without one, humility. What more could you ask from an elected representative?

What more could the Greens have asked from our first elected representative in this state? Well, I for one could have done with less dad jokes and a few less limericks. I also have a limerick. We did not compare notes prior to this but I was moved for the first time in possibly my entire life, or at least four decades, to pen a limerick for That Pollie Parnell, which goes:

There once was a Pollie who cycled,

He liked speaking and he recycled,

His name Mark Parnell,

Though here we say farewell,

His contribution is still far from final.

Indeed, it is far from final in terms of his contribution to the public life of this state and I wish him well in future years. I also note that, while he may still be up for running a marathon in real life, he has run a marathon in parliamentary terms for the Greens. He is currently the longest continuing serving Greens MP in the country as of last month. So I congratulate him for running that particular marathon. It must have been very lonely to be here as the sole Greens member of this parliament.

I thank him for his warm welcome and his support over the 11 years that I have joined him. He has been a very hard act to follow, and will be a very difficult act to follow, but I am sure that he will offer every support to our party and to our future parliamentarians for us to continue to prosper. With that, I commend the motion.

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