As is usual practice at the end of a Parliamentary sitting year, Mark gave his Valedictory speech, reflecting on the past year and giving his thanks.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I acknowledge the absolute passion that my colleague, the Hon. Tammy Franks, has for this place to do its job as thoroughly as possible.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I do share her disappointment that this important piece of legislation is not going to be dealt with today, but I also want to make some more general reflections on the year that we have had in parliament. There is no doubt that this has been a year like no other. The COVID pandemic has hit everyone hard. I think it is probably fair to say that most of us feel grateful that we have been through the pandemic in a country like Australia, and in a state like South Australia, where civil society is generally strong enough for public health measures to be given the best possible chance to work.
COVID has been hard but it has been harder in other places. That might seem like cold comfort to those who have lost their jobs or their livelihoods, and I do not mean it in that way at all. We really do need to make sure that in a wealthy First World country like Australia, and in South Australia, people do not fall through the cracks.
As the Leader of the Government said in his adjournment contribution, in parliament we have adapted our practices, and I think we have also curtailed some time-honoured processes of accountability—some processes that, in the normal course of events, I could not have imagined we would voluntarily relinquish. These are measures that enable us to do our jobs as members of parliament and as members of the upper house of parliament in holding the government to account.
I think the one word that sums up how parliament has managed COVID-19 is probably 'trust'. We have trusted while certain processes have been truncated, shortcuts have been put in place and unprecedented power has been given to officials—not just elected officials and ministers but also unelected officials as well. So it has been a remarkable year and, like other members, I hope that next year we can put COVID behind us and that the normal process of legislating for the good order of the people of South Australia can be put back in place.
I would like to briefly take the opportunity to thank my parliamentary team: Cate Mussared, my Chief of Staff; our office manager, Emily Bird; our junior trainee, Leif Gerhardy; and my casual administrative and research staff, Alice Mussared, Matt Trainor and James Murphy.
I join with the Leader of the Government in thanking you, Mr President, and also the parliamentary officers, Chris Schwarz and Guy Dickson. I also thank their hardworking team who help us so much in our work here. I am always nervous that I will forget names, but thanks to Leslie, Anthony, Emma, Karen, Mario, Todd, Charles and Kate—I think have everyone there.
I would like to thank the building attendants; the catering division, who feed us so well; the Parliament Research Library, who answer our difficult questions; and parliamentary counsel, who make us sound better than we are. I know everyone says that every year, but they do. Sorry, that was Hansard. Hansard make us sound better. Parliamentary counsel make us sound learned in the way they draft our bills. I thank the security team, who keep us safe and usually have a friendly smile as we arrive each day.
Last but not least, I give my thanks to my parliamentary colleagues and their staff. I was going to say that it has been a pleasure to work with you all this year, but it is a mixture of pleasure and pain. However, I reckon that pleasure has outweighed pain most of the time.
Where it has been painful, it has at least been professional. I think that is the best that we can hope for where you have a contest of ideas and you have people who disagree. We behave relatively well most of the time towards each other, whether we agree or disagree. Whenever we do adjourn to, I look forward to continuing to work with you all. I wish people a very restful break over the holiday season.