Along with 14 other Senators,* West Australian Senator Peter Cook retires at the end of this month. I worked as Peter’s trade adviser from 1998-2000, when he was shadow trade minister, and learned a tremendous amount. It was only a small part of his career, which started in 1983, and took him to several portfolios in the Hawke and Keating governments, including industrial relations, resources and trade.
Peter did the final negotiations that brought the Uruguay Round home (though Bob McMullan signed the document), and continued as an impassioned advocate for the economic policies of the Hawke and Keating governments. When many in the ALP were looking at moving towards so-called "fair trade" and abolishing the Productivity Commission, he continued arguing for reforms that had brought down prices and put about $1000 a year into the pockets of working families.
Last year, Peter was diagnosed with cancer in his chest, and has been undergoing some pretty serious treatment for it. Tomorrow, his last day of parliamentary sittings, he brings down a Senate report looking at how we as a society can make it easier for cancer patients to sort through the myriad of treatments available (terms of reference here). It’s an impressive way to leave the building.
Update: The Senate Cancer report is now available.
* One of the others to depart is Aboriginal Senator Aden Ridgeway. This means that like the US, Australia will have no indigenous parliamentarians at the federal level.