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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 373


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(6.45) —I join those who have paid tribute to Frank Stewart's contribution as a vital, integral and intrinsic part of the Senate by way of his activities in the transport section. In the short time that I have been here I have held a deep affection for him and a great deal of appeciation of him. I have always found that Frank, particularly when I first came here, was the bastion of all immediate wisdom and knowledge. If one wanted to know what was going on in the Senate, one always went to Frank Stewart. One may not have been able to find out from the Prime Minister when the Parliament was expected to rise, when we would be returning or when an election would be announced, but Frank seemed to have some special pipeline to heavenly places and could answer with impeccable timing as to when those events would take place.

I, like a number of senators, have a young wife. I also have young children who have plagued Frank and Steve at every opportunity when they come here. They have been tolerant, to the best of my knowledge, and have treated my children with good humour and occasionally have given them some good advice. I am one of those difficult people who from day to day never quite know in which direction they are heading and on which aircraft or airline they are to travel. Frank has always shown a great deal of goodwill and humour when I change my mind every half an hour or when I have bookings on four aircraft which are heading in four separate directions.

I well remember the only time when I missed an aircraft out of Canberra. The driver-he was a new driver-sat outside until five minutes before the aircraft was due to leave the airport. He then knocked on my door and said: 'Were you planning to catch this aircraft?' By that time, of course, it was quite irrelevant, because the aircraft had gone. Since then it has been a standing order that when the driver arrives at my place, if I am not out within five minutes of the time at which I am due to leave, the driver knocks on my door. Only yesterday I was running a little late. I heard a knock on the door and rushed out to answer it, wearing a very brief towel around my less than brief body, with the intention of saying, 'I'll be out in five minutes, sport, just hang on.' A young, attractive female car driver was confronted with my body. I had to retreat very quickly and say that I would be out in a moment.

I record my deepest appreciation, and that of my family, who have all had the good fortune of being blessed with Frank's patience, goodwill, understanding and, in particular, generosity in ensuring that our travel arrangements in and out of Canberra have been smooth, effective and comfortable. I wish Frank a happy retirement. I hope that he comes back to the Parliament often and that we do not lose contact with him.