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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 54

Senator HARRADINE —Mr President, I should like to congratulate you on your election by this chamber to the high office of President of the Senate. I am quite confident that you will discharge your responsibilities in an efficient and fair manner. Your qualifications for the job are excellent. You have served on a number of committees, including the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing, the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. In any event, it will be necessary for you, as President of the Senate and as head of the Department of the Senate, to ensure that the Senate receives its due in the new Parliament House.

In respect of your work on the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, it is important to have somebody in the chair who knows a bit about foreign affairs and defence. Of course, your predecessor has been appointed to the very high office of Australian High Commissioner in London-or, to be correct, St James's Court. All of us believe that he will do a magnificent job representing this country. You, Mr President, as the previous Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, have a wealth of experience and you will be eminently capable of welcoming distinguished guests, particularly those who will be coming for our Bicentenary.

I would like to raise just one other point while I am on my feet. Mr President, not many people around this place will know what I am talking about, but I recall that in 1975 you criticised a certain kangaroo court. I am happy to say that there is a President of this chamber who is a declared opponent of kangaroo courts and star chambers. This is going to be very important in the next few weeks and months when we in this chamber consider the question of privilege of this place. I believe that when it comes to the rights of people inside and outside this chamber, it is very important to ensure that we do not go over the edge in relation to privilege issues, that we do not cocoon ourselves and that we do not possibly turn ourselves into a kangaroo court or star chamber. That is a question which, of course, will need to be addressed by you and, indeed, by the whole of the Senate.

I join with previous speakers in paying tribute to your predecessor. He upheld the dignity of the Chair. He also upheld the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that this chamber operated as a House of review, that regard was paid to fairness, and that the executive government did not tell the President what to do. I am sure that you are a worthy successor to ex-President Senator McClelland. I would also like to say that Senator Jessop had great qualifications for the job. I commiserate with him and also with Senator Georges.