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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17331

Mr MURPHY (5:45 PM) —I rise this evening to support the amendment of the shadow Attorney-General. As you know, that amendment is based on the Leader of the Opposition's and shadow Attorney-General's new method—proposed on 26 May—for appointing the Governor-General. This amendment makes the Prime Minister ultimately responsible for the choice of Governor-General and also allows for full consultation with the Australian people.

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Major General Michael Jeffery and Mrs Jeffery on their new roles. I wish them well, as I am sure every Australian citizen does. In my view, and in the view of many of my constituents—and I dare say the minister at the table would agree, but I do not want to verbal him—Archbishop Hollingworth had a much higher calling in his role as Archbishop of Brisbane when he was offered the appointment as Governor-General by the Prime Minister. I believe that he was blinded by error in accepting that appointment.

Much criticism was levelled at Dr Hollingworth in the time he was the Governor-General and previously, but I would like to say something very positive about Dr Hollingworth because it is always too easy to say a lot of negative things—and they have all been said time and time again.

I had a personal experience through one of my constituents, Mrs Angela Betmalik, who tragically lost her only daughter on 12 October last year in the Sari Club in Bali. Christina Betmalik, who perished, was one of four bridesmaids who joined the bride and groom the day after the wedding in Bali. A week after that wedding, when the bride, groom and bridesmaids were enjoying a holiday, they were all at the Sari Club and the bride did not feel well. She went home with her husband, and we all know what happened to the four bridesmaids. It was written up extensively and broadcast in the media at the time.

As the local federal member who had lost a constituent—as did a number of members of the House—I visited Mrs Betmalik, with my wife Adriana, on many occasions and continue to visit her and provide support to her. I take the opportunity to tell the minister how appreciative my constituent was of the help and assistance the government gave to her family—who came out from Greece to provide support to her in her dreadful bereavement—and to her, with the opportunity to travel to Bali to see where her daughter perished. When we visited Mrs Betmalik, one of the things that she impressed on Adriana and me was how appreciative she was of a telephone call she received from Dr Hollingworth a short time after she lost her daughter. That provided her with an enormous amount of comfort. She also derived a significant amount of comfort from a visit to her home by Dr Hollingworth and Mrs Hollingworth, who came with beautiful Australian native flowers. Dr Hollingworth and Mrs Hollingworth spent a period of about one hour comforting Mrs Betmalik and her husband.

I also understand—and this might not be known to the House—that Dr Hollingworth endeavoured to contact all the Bali victims' families and travelled all around Australia to provide comfort to the families who had lost loved ones in Bali. I am not sure that that is known but I know that it was very much appreciated by a mother in my electorate who tragically lost her only daughter. To give you some insight into that tragedy, she did not receive part of the body of her daughter until a couple of weeks after the tragedy. You can imagine the anguish that she was going through at the funeral, which my wife and I attended. Thereafter, the coroner contacted her on a weekly basis to let her know whether any more of her daughter's body had been located in Bali. Months later some of her daughter's limbs and muscle tissue were returned to Australia, and she had the pain of a second funeral.

I would like to take the opportunity to salute what Dr Hollingworth did for the families of the Bali victims because I know how much that was appreciated by my constituent. I wish him well. As I said a while ago, in my view the experience of having someone who, as an archbishop, had a much higher calling is a sobering reminder to us that we should not mix the State and the Church. I know that the wisdom of hindsight is a wonderful thing but, in selecting Dr Hollingworth for that job, one could say that with his impeccable credentials—

The SPEAKER —I am very reluctant to interrupt the member for Lowe and, for that reason, did not do so at any other stage in his speech. But the chair would be indebted to him if he could now draw his remarks closer to the bill, which deals with the Governor-General's salary. Grateful as I am for his very supportive observations and his comments as a concerned local member, I do have an obligation to remind him of the bill before the House.

Mr MURPHY —I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. I think that what I am trying to say, rather inadequately, is that we have the Church here and the State there, and they should never mix. As I said, with the wisdom of hindsight, perhaps we should have thought a little harder about why Dr Hollingworth was not the head of the Anglican Church in Australia. You would have thought that perhaps he would have been appointed, and that raises questions. But I want to wish him well and, with those few remarks, support the amendment moved by the shadow Attorney-General. On a most positive note, I wish Major General Jeffery all the best in his future endeavours.