Speech to Parliament: Phillip Hughes Condolence

On behalf of the people of Kingsford Smith, I wish to pay tribute to Phillip Hughes who passed away tragically on 27 November. The Australian summer is defined by three things: the beach, the barbecue and cricket.

It is part of Australian culture. In summer, our kids' heroes are those who wear the baggy green. Phil Hughes was Australian hero No. 408. He was characteristic of a true Australian opening batsman—unassuming, small in stature but big in heart, with a fierce determination to score runs for his country. And score runs he did. In his second test, he scored a century, at the age of 20—115 against South Africa in Durban. In the second innings of that test, he scored 160 and became the youngest cricketer in history to score centuries in both innings of a test match. In 2013 he made a century on debut in his first one-day international game, against Sri Lanka. Like many of Australia's great batsmen, Hughes battled for his place in the Australian side. He was dropped four times, but he showed characteristic guts and determination to make his way back into the team. On 27 November this year, on 63, he was on his way to a century and what many believe would have been another test call-up.

Hughes was the quintessential Aussie cricketer. Born in Macksville on the North Coast of New South Wales, he was also a very good rugby league player and played beside none other than Greg Inglis. Greg Inglis last week, in The Courier-Mail, recalled the boy who would get up the noses of his opponents and mates when nobody could get him out in a cricket match. Greg Inglis said that Phil Hughes was always destined to play for Australia. He played A grade in the local competition at the age of 12. At 17 he came to Sydney and began grade cricket with the Western Suburbs club. In 2007 he was selected for the under-19 Australian World Cup squad. In 2007-08 he was selected to play for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield. Like many Australian cricketers, he also did a stint in England, in county cricket, playing for Middlesex, Hampshire and Worcestershire. Towards the end of his career, he was paying Sheffield Shield cricket for South Australia. Phil Hughes played 26 tests for Australia and scored 1,535 runs, with an average of 32.65.

The outpouring of grief and sorrow that we have seen throughout Australia, from not only his team mates, friends and family but also the Australian public, has been remarkable and is testament to the high regard in which he was held and his tenacity and spirit for the game of cricket. David Warner, a constituent of Kingsford Smith, was one of Phillip's greatest mates and sat beside Phil as he was taken from the SCG on a medicab and later to St Vincent's Hospital. His feelings are reflected in the sorrow that people in the community of Kingsford Smith are feeling at the moment.

Phil Hughes represents our love of cricket and our love of cricketers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his team mates, in particular Sean Abbott. On behalf of the people of Kingsford Smith, I say to Sean Abbott: know that you are not at all at fault in respect of this tragic accident; know that you have the support and encouragement of the nation; and know that we hope that you play on in your cricketing career.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to the cricketing community in Kingsford Smith—to the players, the family and friends, the officials and the fans who have given touching tributes to Phil Hughes and his family. I am deeply proud to represent the sentiments of our community in this place.

In conclusion, I think Richie Benaud summed up perfectly the feelings of the nation when he said last week: 'A boy just beginning, 25 years of age, baggy green No. 408. His father's best mate. Son, brother, fighter, friend, inspiration. Phillip Hughes, forever rest in peace, son.' I offer my condolences to Phillip Hughes's family.


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