Thank you very much Mr Deputy Speaker, and I am really pleased that you are sitting in the chair at the moment to share with me what I would like to say.
Yesterday was a very sad day for myself, for many of our colleagues past and present and for all parties from both Houses of the parliament. Today I would like to stop and remember our good friend, Commonwealth car driver Annie Lymberry.
Everybody in the parliament knew, loved and respected Annie. She loved to look after and care for 'her pollies', as we were generally referred to. She went far beyond the call of duty. It was a fact that was largely lost on the bureaucrats from Comcar who, quite frankly, should be held accountable for their vindictiveness and their appalling treatment of this beautiful woman.
Nevertheless, Annie was fiercely loyal to her organisation to the end.
When a pollie's car door opened and Annie's smiling face was behind the wheel, we always sighed with relief. She was an institution in Comcar and reflected the best in their long tradition of discretion and loyalty. Everyone knew that what was said in the car stayed in the car, with no exceptions.
Today I would like to read a communication that I received from our former colleague, Alex Somlyay. Annie was Alex's landlady for a number of years up until his retirement in 2013. In Alex's words, 'Annie was a friend to my wife, Jenny, and myself. Annie provided me not only with board but a home away from home. We discussed many things, but mostly about her family and my family.'
I also had a short stay, I must declare, at Annie's house. She loved her family and she loved her animals, particularly those crazy cats, and the birds that visited the back veranda.
She never said anything about any of her colleagues or my colleagues. She never gave away confidences, no matter how hard we all tried to get that information from her!
As Alex stated, 'I wish I were still in the parliament to pay tribute to Annie and give her service appropriate recognition as an important cog in the machinery of the democratic system that makes the parliament function. Goodbye, my friend.'
Mr Deputy Speaker Irons, I would like to recognise that, as I am sure you would like to associate yourself with it, as would members on the other side. Alex, I say to you, and I say it from all of us here, that we acknowledge Annie's partner also, Stew Pasfield, for his commitment to this beautiful lady. He has been by her bedside during her illness. I had the opportunity to visit Annie recently, while she was undergoing treatment at Canberra Hospital. While it was difficult, I will treasure the time I was able to spend with her.
Annie's funeral was held yesterday at St Patricks Catholic Church in Berry and was followed by a burial and wake at the Shoalhaven Memorial Gardens & Lawn Cemetery in Worrigee. Annie, we love you and we will certainly miss you. We know that wherever you are, you will still be full of your welcomed opinions and advice. To Stewie, we are sending you our love and all the best wishes at this difficult time. I look forward to catching up with you when you are back on deck.