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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2218


Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (3.10 p.m.) —The contribution we have just heard from Senator Newman must rank as one of the most ungracious speeches that I have heard in this Senate. Senator Richardson is a cabinet minister who has made a very distinguished contribution, by any fair-minded person's judgment, not just to this government but to politics generally over the last 20 years.

  I have had some disagreements with Senator Richardson from time to time, but he is a politician who has a very distinguished record. For Senator Newman to refer to him in that way, before he has had the opportunity to state on the public record his reasons as to why he is resigning, is particularly ungracious and ill-mannered. We do not know at the moment why Senator Richardson is resigning. There is speculation that it is because of his health, and we do know that Senator Richardson has not been in the best of health over the past couple of months. That may be the reason why he is going to resign, but we will certainly find out, I hope, tonight. I do know that it is not because Senator Richardson has lost any battles with the Prime Minister (Mr Keating), because I cannot remember Senator Richardson being defeated on anything over the last 20 years, if we look at his record.

  We do know Senator Richardson is resigning. We know that the reasons for this are very good and have nothing to do with alleged neglect of his portfolio and nothing to do with any ignoring of the issues that he had before him. He has worked diligently and hard over the last year or so, since he has been health minister, to apply himself to those matters. I only wish Senator Newman had the guts to make those sorts of comments when Senator Richardson was here to respond to them.