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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2390

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —Mr President, I wish to support you in the remarks that you have just made about my colleague Senator Martin. I do not think this is really the time for the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) to show the levity that he is showing, given that Senator Martin has succeeded where both he and I have failed. As to your inability to understand why anyone would wish to escape to greener pastures, perhaps he and I can explain it to you after we have adjourned this evening. I can only say that in my own case failure has been a relatively consoling matter, but I congratulate Senator Martin on the fact that she has set out to win the seat of Moncrieff and I wish her well. Mr President, I am sure that you, too, wish her well and that the whole of the Opposition and the Government do too.

I was wondering what I should say about Senator Martin, who entered the Senate at the same time as I did and, indeed, as Senator Button did, in May 1974. In one sense and in one sense only I am glad she is leaving because it made me turn back to her maiden speech. That took me to the next speech, which was made by Senator Button, and then to the next speech, which was made by me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them, but there was one short passage in Senator Martin's maiden speech which reminded me of the qualities that I think she has shown in this place. She was talking about Australia. She talked about an independence of spirit and the fact that the Australian was a tolerant person who wanted to see social justice. These were the days before we were too concerned about sexist language. She said: 'He has a good strong social conscience'. I think Senator Martin has shown considerable independence of spirit in this place. I think she has shown tolerance in the best sense, a desire to see social justice and, for her own part, a strong social conscience. I was interested to see how profoundly moved Senator Button was by Senator Martin's maiden speech. He was so moved that he became incoherent. He said something which I thought I would ask the Senate to explain to me. Senator Button was so moved by Senator Martin's initial contribution that he referred to her as the Mona Lisa. He said:

I begin by congratulating Senator Martin on her maiden speech. For nine or ten weeks she has adorned this chamber-I hope she will understand what I am trying to say-like the Mona Lisa, smiling at everybody and saying little. Tonight she said something. Like the Mona Lisa, if one looks at that picture, it has been a pretty interesting and intellectual contribution to the debate. I congratulate her on that.

I can only say to Senator Button that I hope she understood what he was saying; I still do not. Perhaps I should in fairness to Senator Button record that she left me in some confusion also. I started off by saying that I rose with trepidation to clamber over the hurdle that had been effortlessly soared by Senator Martin less than half an hour before.

In fact, Senator Martin has been a very good member of the Liberal Party in this place. She has been a very considerable contributor to debate. I am glad that over these recent weeks of the Senate sittings she has had a number of opportunities to display the skills that she has used to such good effect. I would like, on behalf of the Opposition, to thank her for her contribution to the Liberal Party, both in government and in opposition, and, of course, to wish her well in her foray for the lower House. We await with confidence her return and expect her to turn in her senator's badge for the green badge of a member of the House of Representatives. She has, I think, brought refreshing candour to this place. She has brought a great deal of spirit, and I, for one, shall miss her contributions.