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Monday, 11 May 1987
Page: 2964

Mr HODGMAN(10.55) —Madam Speaker, the five Tasmanian members of this House again wish to associate ourselves with the mark of respect shown by honourable members earlier today following the tragic and unexpected death of the Governor of Tasmania, Sir James Plimsoll, at 3.30 last Friday afternoon at Government House. I particularly acknowledge the presence in the chamber of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) and the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Miles). There will be opportunities in the days and weeks ahead for further tribute to be paid to Sir James but suffice it to say that he was a very great Australian. Without doubt he was the finest diplomat this country has ever produced, a man who represented our nation with very great distinction right around the world. I simply say on behalf of my Tasmanian colleagues that we were indeed fortunate to have him as Governor of our State from 1982 until his tragic and untimely death last Friday. He was appointed Governor of Tasmania by Premier Doug Lowe and served our State under governments of both political persuasions with absolute impartiality and integrity. He was a man very deeply loved by all Tasmanians and he will never be forgotten.

I regret that it is necessary on behalf of my Tasmanian colleagues to advert to some remarks that were made today in the Parliament, including in this debate, and to some remarks that were made outside the Parliament in relation to the current constitutional situation that has developed in my State. I regret very much that the right honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), the honourable member for Wills (Mr Hawke) and tonight the honourable member for Dunkley (Mr Chynoweth) have apparently misunderstood exactly what the Constitution provides or have not taken the trouble to look at the precise words of section 15. When one considers that section 15 was amended as recently as 1977 by referendum put to the people of Australia, it staggers me that leaders of the nation in various political parties-particularly the right honourable member for New England and the honourable member for Wills-can state the position to be other than it is. I ask honourable members to have a very good look at what section 15 of the Constitution says, not what some people are saying it should say or what they think it means. The operative part of section 15 states:

If a place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of service, the Houses of Parliament of the State for which he was chosen, sitting and voting together, or, if there is only one House of that Parliament, that House, shall choose a person-

I emphasise the words `choose a person'-

to hold the place until the expiration of the term.

The situation is that in Tasmania there are two Houses of the Parliament-the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council. Contrary to the statements of some people who should know better, it is not the Government of Tasmania which chooses the replacement senator; it is the Parliament of the State of Tasmania. The plain fact is that the person who was nominated by the Australian Labor Party could not get the support of a majority of members of both Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament.

The Premier warned the Australian Labor Party 3 1/2 months ago, when the resignation of Senator Grimes was anticipated, that the person it proposed to nominate would not be acceptable and would not be likely to be elected. Why not? He is opposed to the policies of the ALP in Tasmania; he is opposed to the policies of the Government; and he is opposed to the policies of the people of Tasmania. If his name were put to the people of Tasmania in a referendum tomorrow and they were asked `Do you want Mr Devereux to be the new senator for Tasmania?', the question would be passed in the negative. He would be defeated.

There is no point in crying over spilt milk. The Labor Party was warned; it was told clearly. The Labor Party in Tasmania decided to be arrogant and pigheaded and it put forward the man's name. It was almost like asking the State of Victoria to elect Mr Norm Gallagher a senator for that State. The plain fact is that on an open vote in the joint sitting last Friday, the nominee-Mr Devereux-failed to gain majority support in exactly the same way as we predicted.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.