As I write, Australia is in day one of a 55 day double dissolution election campaign – one of the longest in our history.
And, just hours ago, the 44th Parliament was officially prorogued.
In the expectation an election was to be called on the weekend, much of last week’s Budget and Budget Reply parliamentary sitting was spent bidding farewell to retiring Members of Parliament, many of whom are long term and well known features on the Australian political landscape.
One of them was the ‘Father Of The Parliament’, the Member for Berowra, Philip Ruddock. Philip has served the people of Berowra for an extraordinary 43 years and is the second longest serving member of the Australian parliament after William ‘Billy’ Hughes’ stint of 51 years.
But Philip, who has been a tireless advocate on human rights, particularly against the death penalty, has no plans to kick up his heels and sign on for golf lessons. At 73, he will embark on a new chapter in his career as Australia’s first special envoy for human rights to the United Nations.
Over the life of this parliament, I have had the privilege of co-chairing the Parliamentary Hong Kong Friendship Group with Philip. Many of you have probably met Philip on his visits to Hong Kong during his lengthy career, and knowing him, I’m sure you’ll be seeing him again. In the final hours of the sitting session, Philip and I discussed who might serve as co-chair in the 45th Parliament. Should I win re-election and again receive the honour of serving as co-chair, it’s comforting to know there is no shortage of talented and driven professionals who’ll help fill Philip’s sizeable shoes.
With an election on its way, it’s important you know how you can vote overseas. All Australian citizens aged 18 years or over are required to enrol and vote in this election. The deadline to enrol or update your details is 8pm Monday 23 May.
For further information visit: http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/Ways_to_vote/overseas.htm
Next month - news from the campaign trail.