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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3082

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) (Prime Minister) - I move:

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr Speaker to each honourable member by telegram or letter.

This is the end of the Thirtieth Parliament Members of the House and half the Senate will submit themselves to the will of the people, and it will be my pleasure early in the new year to see the opening of the Thirty-first Parliament, again from this side of the House. Before we depart, before the House is dissolved, I should like to pay a tribute to you, Mr Speaker, for the way in which you have discharged the dudes of your high office. It is your task to maintain the dignity of this place, and you have done so in the best traditions of your predecessors, with moderation and with humour. Mr Speaker, if I may say so, you have not always been given the entire assistance which you should have been given by members of the House.

Assisting you have been the Chairman of Committees, the Clerk and his officers in this place. We are likewise indebted to them for the effective operation of the Parliament. You will know, Mr Speaker, that there are many others who work in the House and who contribute in many ways to the comfort and convenience of all honourable members. We are grateful to them all. Among them I would like to mention the Hansard staff for their unfailing attention to their duties and for their general efforts to improve the quality of our language and the way in which it reads for posterity. I can remember an occasion when a former member for Bonython, who had a habit of stringing his sentences together, complained about the manner in which Hansard had altered his language and, in part, had altered his meaning. He asked that he be reported precisely and exactly as he spoke. I am referring to an earlier member for Bonython, going back some considerable time. On the next occasion on which he made a 30-minute speech he was reported precisely as he spoke- in one sentence without end. Let that be a warning to honourable gentlemen who complain about the way in which Hansard sometimes improves thengrammar. To be reported exactly as one speaks is not always to one 's advantage.

The staff of the Parliamentary Library are always ready to help honourable members with inquiries and research. I think the manner in which that Department has been established and expanded in recent times has added greatly to the capacity for work of honourable members. I would like to thank Roger Webb, the Parliamentary Liaison Officer, who has done so much to see that there is smooth working in this building. I thank those who work in the refreshment rooms and who look after us during the long hours that we are in this building; the attendants for their cheerful courtesy to each of us as we come and go about our work; those who order cars and vehicles to make sure that honourable members get here on time and that they get to wherever they are staying at night; and lastly those who arrange our travel to and from Canberra at the beginning and end of each week. We are all indebted to them for their efficient service. Without any one aspect of their activities the Parliament would not function as an efficient and proper place.

Mr Speaker,this Government came to office at a time of some difficulty for Australia. On the ministry has fallen a heavy burden of responsibility. So on this occasion I want to place on record my personal appreciation for the Ministers' dedicated work and for the way in which they have worked as a team. Behind the ministry are the hard working members and their staffs, and also those in Government departments who work beyond and out of sight but whose labours contribute in a very real way to the successful continuance of executive government. I believe that Australia is very well served by the quality of its public servants, by their dedication to the service of Australia and by their apolitical approach to the problems that confront them. It is cardinal in our system that the Public Service be able to support a government of this complexion or a government of another complexion and do it so that Ministers and Prime Ministers can have complete and absolute confidence in the quality of its advice, in its integrity and in the way in which it goes about its business. The Australian Public Service stands high amongst the public services of the world. I believe that this country can be grateful for it. Ministers particularly, and former Ministers, know of the dedication and efficiency of public servants. I am sure that all of us mark it with appreciation.

It is appropriate in a speech at the end of a parliamentary session for me to say a special word about my colleague the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) who has had the difficult task of making sure that the program of government business is managed smoothly and effectively. I believe he has done so in a way that has generally found acceptance on all sides of the House. He has used the gag and the guillotine a good deal less than some of his predecessors used it, and there has been proper and useful time for debate on matters of importance. So I express my thanks to him and to the Government Whips for their work in making sure that honourable members are where they ought to be at the appropriate time.

The Government and this House owe a special debt to the First Parliamentary Counsel, Mr Quayle, and to his staff. These officers have unfailingly given the Parliament Bills of consistently high excellence even when the time has been short or the urgency pressing. The quality of their work is not only a tribute to then: profession, it is also a tribute to Australia. The quality of the Acts of this Parliament, the laws which we are sent here to make, is testimony to their fine work.

I also express my appreciation to my colleagues on this side of the House. They have co-operated wholeheartedly with the Government and have contributed to the debates and the proceedings of this place, and to the formation of policy to their own and to the Government's credit. Tins Parliament has seen some important reforms in the scope of its own operations. Chief among them is the introduction of the Expenditure Committee. That Committee has been in operation scarcely a year but the value of its work is already being seen. I believe that the very fact of its existence tends to make departments more careful of their expenditures. I extend the Government's appreciation to the first chairman and to the present chairman of the Committee for their important pioneering work. I hope that early in the next Parliament a move can be made for the establishment of legislation committees, in which I know you, Mr Speaker, have a keen interest but which the pressure of buiness unfortunately led to be put aside over the course of this year.

Finally, some of our colleagues have already signified their intention not to stand again for election to this House. Others will be seeking their fortunes elsewhere by nominating for another House- by nominating for the Senate. To each of those who are resolved not to return we extend our best wishes for the future. Firstly there is the present father of the House and indeed father of the Parliament the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). He was first elected in 194S and since then has given long and honourable service to this House, to his electors and to this nation. I believe that he is one of those to whom Australia owes a debt for the long and dedicated service to his Party and to Australia. He was a distinguished Minister for Education in the former Government. We wish him health, happiness and good fortune in his retirement.

Two more honourable gentlemen who were Ministers of the previous Government will be retiring. I refer to the honourable member for Lalor, Dr Cairns, and the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, Mr Crean. I am sure that every member of this House wishes them both well for the future. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports is in the chamber at the present time. He too has been in the Parliament for a very long while, acting out of a sense of dedication and a sense of those things in which he believes to the service of his party and to the service of Australia. May I say that the Parliament will be a worse place for his departure. I am sure that aU of us wish them well for the future.

Four honourable gentlemen are retiring to seek election to greener pastures, in the Senate. I suppose that, after considering the colour of the chairs, I should have said 'redder pastures' in the Senate. I refer to the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). Perhaps the change of colour will not suite him. I refer also to the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), the honourable member for Tangney (Dr Richardson) and the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). I wish the honourable member for Isaacs well. Among the members of the Government parties may I mention the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) and the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King). I join with all their colleagues in extending my best wishes to them for the future. The honourable member for Herbert in particular has given a great deal of attention to the problems of exservicemen. I am certain that they recognise that and are grateful for it, as I am and as this Parliament is.

The honourable member for Wimmera and I, holding adjoining seats, have been neighbours in politics for a very long while. I believe that even when, at times, there has been little warmth between our organisations, as sometimes occurs in the best of families, there has always been the best of relations between Bob King and myself. I could not wish for a better neighbour in a neighbouring electorate than Bob King. I thank him very much for his friendship in the years in which we have held adjoining electorates. I know that he will be living not quite in my electorate but in an electorate just to the north and I am sure he will be around for a long while to come. As Leader of the Government I thank both the honourable member for Wimmera and Duke Bonnett for their loyalty and hard work over many years. I would also like to mention the good work of the honourable member for Evans, John Abel. His time here has been aU to brief. It was cut short through the decision of the Distribution Commissioners. I am confident that he will return as a member of this House on some future occasion. Unfortunately, Distribution Commissioners happen to be one of the hazards that members of Parliament have to run. That can be said with feeling by many people in different places from time to time. I believe that one of the merits of this Parliament is that it has had an electoral system which has, by and large, resulted in a fair distribution of seats in the Par.liament, much more than in some Parliaments. I think it is to the credit of the Commonwealth Parliament that this is so.

We are fast coming to the end of this Parliament. Over the last two years we have had before us a heavy program of legislation and other parliamentary business. We have sat for a total of 1,400 hours- I did not collect the statistics so I hope somebody is right- and more than 360 Bills have been passed. That seems a very great number. Honourable members have placed more than 4,000 questions on notice. As I have said, there was much to be done and much remains to be done. The Government is going to the people confident that it has achieved the first stage of new policies and new directions for the welfare of Australia. It looks forward to taking up the task again after the elections.

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