CONDOLENCES - Linda White Main Image

I recognise in this condolence Linda White's family and friends, especially her team here in this place, and all her comrades in the Labor Party, who will miss her.

I know that while Linda was a private person, you were never in any doubt of her solidarity with you. Whether it was your religion, ethnicity, First Nations identity, race, gender, gender identity or sexuality, she knew we were growing a movement not just for unions and for workers but for justice, for people, for arts, for culture and for community. There was no such thing as so-called identity politics with Linda. It was all about people and who you were and standing in solidarity with you, be there one of you or 10,000 or 100,000.

I remember Linda's visibility in the 1990s in the affirmative action debates in the ALP and in the successful change to the party's rules. I am in no doubt that I owe my parliamentary career to that work. But I owe more than that—not just for the bringing forward of women with a 35 per cent rule change in the mid-90s but the lessons that I drew from this. Linda knew how to turn big wheels of change and she knew that it took time to turn them. I drew big lessons from this in my own application within Labor Party advocacy in the mid-90s to LGBTIQ rights and our recognition in our party platform. Of course, that movement has grown and grown, and Linda was right there in 2011 when we changed the party's platform on marriage.

I recognise the legacy of Linda's work in the ASU, on so many community boards, in the ACTU and in her long time in the ALP on our national executive, but I want to, in particular, recognise the fight for equal pay in our nation. Before the ASU and Linda White started this campaign, it seemed a bit pie in the sky and a bit far fetched, but with Linda White's leadership attached to it you always knew we were going to get there.

I lost my seat in this place in 2014, and I worked in the community services sector for a little time after that. I saw that sector fight back from the edge of losing staff in homelessness services because of that long campaign, to after the determinations were made to the government funding it. I saw that transformation take place in the community services sector. You could always very much see how Linda understood that it was about the dignity of working people and working women—who were long underpaid for their skills in this sector—but for Linda it was also very much about the quality of services that Australians receive. The retention of those staff absolutely makes the difference to the quality of services that make a difference in so many peoples' lives.

When Linda came here, I did fangirl her. She was very humble and a bit taken aback by that, but I was equally surprised to find she fangirled me back. It means a great deal to me to have talked to Linda about that, about the esteem with which we held each other in our long time together in this movement. We know she took her responsibilities in this place seriously and took to it like a duck to water, but I also very much enjoyed getting to know her more personally. Her interest in the arts; her very dry wit, which I must say took on a special joy when pitted against Ben's cheekiness. You could really see a light in Linda's eyes when she was working with her whole team.

I enjoyed working with her on the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, and in this condolence debate today I want to pay my respects to all of the parliamentary staff who worked with Linda in our committees and across the parliament as I know they deeply respected her also. I enjoyed and appreciated her counsel.

It is no surprise that whoever Linda had around her, they got great things done. I want to thank Ben Armstrong, Ekta Mahal, Ned Lindenmayer, Ead Stokes and Amit Aalok. Thank you for your love and support and care for our beloved comrade. As difficult as this time has been, I know that you will feel such a deep privilege for having spent this time with her. I treasure my own memories of her and I recognise her tremendous legacy that has brought a great deal of good to our nation. Vale, Linda White.