Suite 202 Rouse Hill Town Centre, 10-14 Market Lane, ROUSE HILL NSW 2155

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Mr RAY WILLIAMS (Castle Hill—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.07 p.m.]: I have raised in this Chamber on many occasions the significant contribution people in my electorate have made. I refer to volunteers, emergency service personnel, carers, fundraisers—people who go above and beyond the call of duty to help improve or to sustain the quality of life of people a little less fortunate than themselves. There have been many famous names included in these pages of people who deserve much more than just a few words because they have tirelessly given of themselves and therefore should be recognised. My contribution today will be no different as I draw the attention of the House to a special person who has served not only my electorate but also the people of New South Wales, and especially those who are a little less fortunate than us.

On this occasion the person is someone I have known personally for many decades and who came to work for me as my personal secretary when I was first elected to Parliament in 2007. Greta Hayes, who is present in the gallery today, together with my wife, Wendy, has been an inspiration in my office and is adored by all who come in contact with her, especially me, my wife, Wendy, and my staff. Greta is a special friend to everyone. But, above all else, the empathy she shows for people in need is truly inspiring and deserves special mention.

In early 2007 I asked Greta to work for me. She initially refused, stating that if we worked together it would spoil a great friendship. I said, “I do not think that is the case, as you will run the office and tell me what to do and I will go out and do it. It would be a perfect arrangement, similar to being married.” She laughed and then agreed. From that moment on we have had a perfect relationship which has resulted in numerous achievements and outcomes for our community and in my electorate being the safest Liberal seat in the country with a margin of 30 per cent. This, in large part, is due to the work of my staff, in particular Greta, who starts well before 8.30 a.m. every morning and usually has to be pushed out the door after 6.00 p.m. most nights. At times in our office, it has been a gruelling schedule and commitment but we have achieved so much for so many, and we could not have done it without the support of the office boss, Greta.

Greta has been more like a mother to all my staff members and a guardian angel for my community. There is nothing we have not been able to achieve on behalf of our constituents. It is this dedication and application to every issue that has endeared Greta to the many people she comes in contact with daily. Our office’s justice of the peace work would make an insomniac tired. Greta has insisted that every staff member becomes a justice of the peace [JP] in order to handle the enormous number of JP authorisations we complete every day. When Greta finishes her daily office duties she is often busy in her volunteer capacity on the board of the Special Olympics or at her local church, again tirelessly working on behalf of others. As a single mother for the past 10 years she has raised two very special young adult children who also are an extension of my own family and we love them dearly.

Ours has been a wonderful association, much more than just an employer-employee relationship. If there is ever something that needs attention, Greta will be the first to apply herself to the task and we just get on and get it done. Gretsie has set the benchmark for others to follow. It is fitting that she is recognised for achieving so much while our New South Wales Liberal-National Government is setting records of achievement. Ten years ago Greta lost her husband, Don, a loving husband and adored father and one of my best mates. Like Greta, Don was a great supporter of mine. He would be incredibly proud of the legacy we have all achieved on behalf of our community, which was also his community, but especially proud of Gretsie and her enduring legacy of compassion and care that she continues to espouse.

Sadly, Grets will retire on Christmas Eve and will leave very large shoes to fill. One thing we will not miss is her Kramer-like displays of excitement (, such as that shown when she backed the winner of the recent Melbourne Cup—then again it is not every day a 100 to 1 winner comes along, and Gretsie is quite partial to the occasional punt. It is often said that no-one is irreplaceable, but Greta is no ordinary person and she will be sadly missed. I have always felt the “a” in her name was misplaced—she is simply great. No words, no awards and no cards can thank her enough for the commitment and contribution she has made on behalf of my office and particularly my electorate, but today we wish her well in retirement. Happy punting in the future, you deserve nothing less. God bless.

The ASSISTANT-SPEAKER (Mr Andrew Fraser): Congratulations, Greta. Anyone who has survived the member for Castle Hill is doing exceptionally well.

Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON (Cootamundra—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.13 p.m.]: I was going to express similar sentiments, Mr Assistant-Speaker. Greta Hayes is to be commended and applauded. The work of our electorate officers cannot be underestimated. Their workload is enormous and we should commend them every day for their conscientiousness. I particularly applaud the qualities, work ethic and determination of Greta Hayes. It is thanks to wonderful people such as Greta that our communities thrive and succeed. Greta, you make Raymond sound good. I know that he will miss you dreadfully. On behalf of the Government and all members of this House, I wish you all the very best of success and a very happy retirement.

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