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Tuesday, 1 February 1994
Page: 14

Mr KEATING (Prime Minister) —Mr Speaker, this will probably be the last intervention in the parliament by the honourable member for Fremantle, our colleague John Dawkins. There could be no greater accreditation of his service here than the litany of economic data which the Treasurer (Mr Willis) read into the Hansard record at question time. With the now Treasurer, the then finance minister, he presided over the economy during the last two difficult years. The policy settings and the policy mix in advent under his stewardship have been right for Australia and have been borne out. He is now leaving public life with a 1.9 per cent inflation rate—

Mr Downer —Why don't you face up to it? He has been going around telling everyone about you and the reasons—

Mr SPEAKER —Order! If the honourable member for Mayo wants to be around to propose his matter of public importance, he should sit there quietly.

Mr KEATING —He had to battle the opposition all through 1993 in regard to the repair of fiscal policy, as a result of which we have seen changes to productivity and exports, and a shift to manufacturing production. He played a significant role in these issues over his years as a minister—in exports and in the founding period of the GATT round, as the Minister for Trade, a matter to which I referred just before Christmas—and of course in the education portfolio he was at the forefront of changes to the education system to power along research and development and product innovation in this country. The consequence is a new and changed culture for Australia, its economy and its society. John Dawkins has played a very large key role in that change.

  Very few people could come to public life, be defeated, come back, as he did in 1977, take a senior portfolio in 1983 and, after nearly 11 years of ministerial service, walk off the field declaring victory. That is what he has been able to do. His contribution will be long remembered by this party, this government and the people of Australia. Naturally, I, amongst all of us here, wish him well for the future.

Mr SPEAKER —Following the announcement by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) of his intention to resign on Friday, 4 February, I will be considering dates for the by-election and will be writing to the party leaders and independent members in relation to the by-election later today.