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Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (15:17): on indulgence — I simply want to advise the House that I will not be contesting the next election — and I do point out that Bernadette’s sitting up there to make sure I don’t recant on this decision! I came here at the Werriwa by-election in 2005, and I’ve had the privilege of serving this place now for the past 16 years. I transferred to the seat of Fowler in 2010, which was a bit of an eye opener, because it is the most multicultural seat in the whole country, which didn’t reflect my background, which was always a bit odd to me, as another middle-aged white guy, being dropped into a community like that. But I must say, the people of Fowler were very, very kind to me — very, very patient — as I learnt and understood the cultures, the customs and traditions of this very, very vibrant community. I have always revelled in the colour and vibrancy of that particular community in south-west Sydney, not to mention the culinary delights there — I did put on 15 kilos after Werriwa! That probably adds to a few other things that I’ll come to. My efforts to try to speak Vietnamese, as well as Cantonese, certainly kept the locals entertained!

A little bit more seriously, I just want to say that I really believe that being a Member of Parliament is not a job. This is something we do. It is a privilege. It is a privilege to serve. I really believe that the people in this place, regardless of their party affiliations, are here for the right reasons, to make a difference for the better in their communities. Sometimes in the rough and tumble of this place it’s easy to be forgotten, but in my case I feel I am slowing down. My health issues, regrettably, have been on public display, courtesy of our colleagues upstairs. I do require some further procedures, which I’ll undertake during this break. I believe it’s in the best interests of my community to make way for someone with the energy and the commitment to continue to champion the needs of Fowler.

Together with my high school sweetheart, who I married — I’ve got to get this right — some 45 years ago, we intend to spend a lot more time in the electorate of Gilmore, so keep up the good work, Fiona! I note I’ll be leaving this place in good company: my old mate Warren Snowdon, the Member for Lingiari — by the way we will do a motorcycle ride over the Snowy Mountains this weekend, tempting fate I know — Nicole Flint, the Member for Boothby, who I’ve really enjoyed working with over the years as a fellow whip and I deeply respect her; my good friend Kevin Andrews, who I can’t see in the House at the moment. We have worked very, very closely over many years, particularly with respect to issues of human rights, which is something coming here has given me the opportunity to pursue as a passion.

When I came to this place in 2005 I was asked by a member of the media what my ambitions were. Bear in mind the initial seat was Gough Whitlam’s seat of Werriwa. Maybe my answer was not exactly what they thought they were going to get. My answer was simply that my ambition in politics was: when I leave, to be regarded as a half decent local member. Well, the jury is still out.

An honourable member: No, it’s not.

Mr Hayes: The verdict’s pending. Thank you.

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