Hon. David Ridgway

09 September, 2021

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.I. Lucas:

That this council notes and thanks the Hon. David Ridgway for his service to the Legislative Council and the community since his election to the Legislative Council in 2002.

(Continued from 7 September 2021.)

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:26): I rise today to wholeheartedly support the motion moved by the Treasurer, the Hon. Rob Lucas, and join him and many colleagues in this parliament to note and thank the Hon. David Ridgway for his service to the Legislative Council and the community since his election to the Legislative Council in 2002.

In his remarks the Treasurer recounted his long-term friendship with David for about 20 years and acknowledged David's achievements, community engagements and parliamentary contributions. The Treasurer spoke highly of the qualities of the retired member of the Legislative Council, who has been appointed as the new Agent General in London.

I want to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Hon. David Ridgway on his prominent appointment. I recall David mentioned in his media conference that the position was more important than it has been at any time in the last 50 years, with Australia and the UK signing a post-Brexit trade agreement. He also said it is a huge opportunity not only for our existing products, including food and wine, and services but areas like space and cybersecurity and, of course, the big defence contracts.

As a former Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David can see great opportunities to grow South Australia's economy, attract more investment into our state and to develop a significant population growth agenda and in terms of opportunities for the tourism sector post COVID. These are the values and contributions that David would bring to South Australia in his new role.

David said that the Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall, considered a number of candidates before asking him to take up the position. He is very proud and, indeed, honoured that he is the first politician to assume the Agent General role in almost 90 years. Premier Marshall, the member for Dunstan in the other place, said David Ridgway's experience as a trade minister would make him well suited for the role. David has a wealth of knowledge on the international stage that will put South Australia in good stead, as he will take advantage of the new free trade agreement between Australia and the UK.

David and wife Meredith have a beautiful family. Many honourable members will know that their daughter Tara is married to the English cricketer Eoin Morgan. David's son-in-law, Eoin Morgan, is the captain of England's One Day International cricket team.

Federal trade minister Senator Simon Birmingham concurred with Premier Marshall when he appointed David in this new role because David's unique set of contacts and connections would put David in a great position to advance the interests of South Australia. And I quote Senator Simon Birmingham, the federal minister, in saying that:

Mr Ridgway got the job because he was a good trade minister who understands what it's like for businesses to operate, to export and to help drive new market opportunities. It's an added bonus that he has those special connections in the UK that I think will be very helpful.

I have known the Hon. David Ridgway since 2009 when I became a Liberal candidate for the Legislative Council. Ridgy is a nickname that David is affectionately known as and is one of the friendliest politicians that I have ever known and many that have met him would concur with me and say the same thing. He is down-to-earth, affable and has an incredible ability to connect with people from all walks of life. It is something the Hon. Rob Lucas, the Treasurer, has also mentioned in his remarks.

When I was elected to the Legislative Council in 2010, the Hon. David Ridgway was the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council. He offered great leadership to support new members coming to this place and he often would—because of my interest in multicultural affairs, my interest in business and international trade—offer a lift to new members, like myself, to attend many both rural and Adelaide regional meetings whereby we could make connections and engage with the business sector as well as multicultural communities.

It would be fair to say that many people just love Ridgy, particularly the Vietnamese farmers, the Asian/Chinese community, the Croatian and the Greek communities. Not only do they respect him as an elected member and the Leader of the Opposition in the upper house at the time—that role that he played—but because of the way that he is able to connect with people through conversations that matter to them and also his connection with people through food.

For those who know Ridgy, you will all know that he has a special appreciation for delicious food and great wines. Ridgy absolutely loves seafood, prawns and crispy suckling roast pig usually served at multicultural events. We all know how much our multicultural communities enjoy showcasing their best and generous hospitality when they organise events and festivals. These communities absolutely love seeing VIP guests attending events that are of significant importance to them and seeing their guests enjoying food the way that Ridgy does.

He makes a strong impression, and up to now, when I go to the Vietnamese Farmers Association, and if Ridgy does not attend the events, they will ask about Ridgy. They will talk about Ridgy in the manner that he was a farmer, he understands what it is like to run a farming business, a horticultural business. Everyone speaks in high regard for Ridgy.

I also want to talk about how David was such a wonderful campaigner. In 2009, when I was elected as a candidate, we were operating a campaign bus for Isobel Redmond, who at the time was Leader of the Opposition. David was the bus driver and I was the volunteers coordinator and we drove to all these different places, such as the Marion Shopping Centre and the Tea Tree Plaza Shopping Centre. Ridgy drove that bus and was very visible in his blue outfit, constantly championing the policy areas we have and talking about what our directions are. He is really passionate about promoting South Australia.

He was a wonderful colleague and a great contributor to parliament and held many portfolios as a shadow minister as well as, of course, in government. Between 2007 and 2018 he held many shadow minister portfolios, including resource development, urban planning, police, energy, infrastructure, tourism, housing, forests and agriculture. He of course worked in trade, tourism and investment, which were the areas he was really passionate about.

He joined the party in 1974 when he was just a young teenager. The Hon. Rob Lucas (Treasurer) spoke about the business he ran with his wife, Meredith. He has been a wonderful member of the Legislative Council and a really wonderful colleague. I personally will miss him greatly because he was one of the most affable, warm-hearted people you will ever get to know.

I am pleased that the Hon. Heidi Girolamo has joined our council as a new member replacing David Ridgway. I want to take this opportunity to wish David, Meredith and their family all the very, very best. I wish him every success in his role as the Agent General. I am sure he will do well in London and the UK. I look forward very much to reconnecting with him in the future in his new capacity as well as in other capacities. I commend the motion to the chamber.