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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 3435

The PRESIDENT (17:08): Before I call on other speakers in the debate, I just want to say a few words about my colleague Senator Alan Ferguson. Alan has shown in his valedictory speech this afternoon the passion that he has for the Senate and its processes. It has been my pleasure—as Alan said, when he was the 22nd President of the Senate, I was the 34th Deputy President of the Senate—to serve with him. Particularly during that time, Alan and I developed a very good relationship indeed. It is a relationship that one cannot necessarily explain, because we are not talking about a political divide; we are talking about, as Alan did, the passion for the processes of this place and the functioning and operation of this place. It was on that basis that we developed this very good relationship indeed. Of course, as Alan said, when he ceased to be the 22nd President, I became the 23rd and he became the 35th Deputy President. In a nonsensical way, I suppose, whilst we had changed positions, it did not alter the relationship one iota. The relationship just went on seamlessly. Even though Alan and I had travelled together and had shared friendship whilst travelling, at the base of our relationship was our belief in this place.

Alan, what you said tonight really sums up the career that you have had in politics and the culmination of your career in your role as the President of the Senate. In your valedictory speech I listened very carefully to your comments on question time. This seems a little bit selfish on my part—I hope not on your part—but in the roles that we perform as President and Deputy President, we see question time from a totally different perspective from the people who sit in this chamber, and we hear it in a different way—sometimes a little bit too loudly! None¬≠theless, your expression of the value of question time and where you would like to see it go should not be lost in the parlia¬≠mentary debate and how this parliament progresses into the future. I make no personal judgment on your comments, but I think your wisdom is well placed indeed.

Alan, to you, Anne and your family, on behalf of Sue and myself, we wish you all the best in retirement. We know that, because of a great institution in this place, we will meet at less once a year. I hope that is for many years to come. I value and treasure the work that you have done for this parliament, particularly with respect to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which you and I know is undergoing severe strain at this stage. You and I have shared a common view for the benefit of the members of this parliament in participating in that organisation. Thank you very much, Alan, and all the best to you.