Retirement of Bruce Scott MP
03 August 2015
Today I pay tribute to my friend, electorate neighbour and colleague Bruce Scott following his announcement that he will retire at the next federal election.
Bruce was elected as the Federal Member for Maranoa to the House of Representatives 25 years ago, and we came to parliament for the first time together in the class of 1990.
He has served his community, his state and the parliament with distinction.
Bruce came to the parliament with a background as a successful producer of stud merino sheep, wool and prime lambs, and grain. He had a strong advocacy record as President of the Queensland Merino Stud Sheep Breeders Association (1983–86), President of the Maranoa Graziers’ Association (1987–90) and President of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders (1989–91).
That passionate advocacy for his community and western Queensland, in particular, has been the hallmark of his 25 years in the federal parliament. There have been few more persistent and strident advocates in the parliament than Bruce Scott and few more faithful representatives of people in regional Australia.
Bruce has also brought dignity and grace to the Chair in the House of Representatives. He served as a member of the Speaker’s panel between 2002 and 2007 and was Second Deputy Speaker from 2008 to 2012. Since 2012 he has been Deputy Speaker.
He was the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence from 1998 to 2001.
But it was as Veterans’ Affairs Minister that Bruce left a strong impression on a great many people. I know from speaking with the veteran community, Bruce, ably supported by his wife Joan, is regarded as one of the best Veterans’ Affairs Minsters ever.
As Minister from 1996 to 2001 he was responsible for a budget of $8.2 billion, 2,700 staff and a Health Purchasing Contract covering Hospital Health Care and Pharmaceuticals. He delivered to benefits to 350,000 veterans, based on world’s best practice medicine and delivery of services and expanded Gold Card entitlements.
He created new programs to assist and alleviate the impact of war service on veterans and their family’s health. He ensured veterans in rural and remote Australia gained better access to services and to their entitlements, as one-third of the veteran community lives outside Australia’s metropolitan areas.
Bruce introduced the highly successful ‘Their Service—Our Heritage’ commemorative program, which has provided support to thousands of local memorial projects around the nation. He led the development of a number of international commemorative memorials, including the commemorative area for the conduct of the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli and Hellfire Pass in Thailand.
He upgraded and expanded the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
He even gave the vets Viagra.
Importantly, he commissioned health studies into the impact of war service on veterans and their families, which has enhanced our understanding of the needs of Australia’s important and precious veteran community.
These studies included the Korean War Veterans Cancer Incidence Study, Australian Gulf War Veterans’ Health Study, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and War-Related Stress, Morbidity of Vietnam Veterans Study, and Australian Veterans and War Widows.
As a Nationals MP, Bruce has been a tireless champion for regional interests and a party man for all ages. He served as Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development (1992–94), Local Government (1994–96) and as Assistant Shadow Minister for Primary Industry (1992–96) and Rural Matters (1994–96).
At a Party level he served as State President of The Nationals and played a key role in the subsequent merger of the major conservative parties in Queensland. He has criss-crossed his gigantic electorate for 25 years and deserves enormous credit for what has been achieved in Maranoa over the last quarter of a century.
Bruce has been a faithful and tireless servant of people, in particular the people of Maranoa.
On behalf of The Nationals, I take this opportunity to thank Bruce for his hard work and dedication. And to Joan, thank you for working with Bruce as a constant companion and support over all those years.
We wish you both the very best for good health, every happiness and a very well-earned retirement with family and friends.