OUTGOING Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum gave his valedictory speech in Parliament last month.
Mr Drum has represented Nicholls since the seat was created in 2019, previously representing the Federal Division of Murray since 2016.
He announced late last year that he would not seek re-election in 2022.
During his speech, Mr Drum thanked his staff and colleagues in the National Party.
“I really need to thank all of you for your support, your friendship and, for sometimes, turning an otherwise quite uneventful day into a frenetic, complicated, stressful and, may I say, amusing place for a day’s work,” he said.
“I love the Nationals and I genuinely believe in their movement, for over 100 years, putting regional issues at the front of our political debate.
“In politics where numbers rule in a ruthless manner, we have 43 per cent of Australians living in two cities. I have a natural belief that if we go forward without a strong National Party, we will always lose out on the contested issues to the parties centred around the capital cities.
“I know The Nats are far from perfect, but we know our people, we work hard for our people and we drive each other to get better and better.”
Mr Drum also reflected on his six years in federal Parliament.
“It’s really humbling to be able to announce big infrastructure projects like the Echuca-Moama bridge, to fund the upgrade of the Shepparton rail line, to fund a new cancer centre at Goulburn Valley Health,” he said.
“To have millions of dollars spent in Yarrawonga, Echuca, Kyabram, Nagambie, Seymour and Shepparton gives you a sense that you have justified the faith that your constituents have placed in you.”
Mr Drum said working with local government had been a key feature of his time in parliament.
“I would like to acknowledge the various councils that I have worked with across the Goulburn Valley – Mitchell Shire and Strathbogie Shire in the south, and the Moira and Campaspe shires in the north, and the City of Greater Shepparton have all been fantastic to work with,” he said.
“I start just about every project with councils from a position of support and it’s only on a rare occasions that I find it necessary to disagree or oppose a council project.”
Mr Drum said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family after stepping down later this year.
“I’ve always been busy from the time I was building garages and sheds to footy coaching, to politics in the state and then this job up here, so I’ve missed so many barbecues, missed doing what most normal families take for granted,” he said.
“If you put your hand up for this job, it means making significant sacrifices with your time, it means sacrificing time with your family full stop and your partner, wife or husband bears the brunt of that sacrifice. And for me, it’s now time to put family first.
“I’m really looking forward to having more time to do the things we enjoy a bit more often.”
Member for Gippsland and fellow Nationals MP Darren Chester said he wouldn’t be able to name an enemy of Mr Drum in Parliament.
“In a place where there are false enemies and even falser friends, Drummy had only friends and mates across the divide and in our party,” he said.
“He created an environment as the National Party whip where he was actually the glue of the party room – he held people together, even in times where those bonds were strained enormously.”
Mr Chester said Mr Drum had a mix of humility, grace and dignity would be missed.
“But most of all we’ll miss his irreverence, his incredible sense of humour, his capacity to turn the worst situation into somehow something quite funny, often inappropriately, and with quite gallows like humour,” he said.
“He was a reliable friend when he was in this place, because he had one bit of advice to never take yourself too seriously.
“You could rely on Drummy because, even as Barnaby [Joyce] sacked me twice, Drummy would be over there telling Barnaby what a stupid idea it was, while at the same time telling me to ‘suck it up princess’.”