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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 52

Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate) —Mr President, on behalf of the Government parties, I should like to congratulate you on your--

Senator Puplick —Government parties?

Senator BUTTON —It is quite clear that a number of parties in the Senate voted with the Government in support of your election, Mr President. I congratulate you on your election as President of the Senate. You said in your opening remarks that you had high standards to aspire to in respect of your predecessors. Senator Chaney has already invited me not to make another speech about your immediate predecessor, Senator McClelland, but I will do so very briefly. He certainly acquitted himself with great dignity and skill as President of the Senate and I think that is a view that is shared by all senators. We all hope and believe that you will be able to carry on the tradition which he and his predecessors established.

I have not researched this matter, but I believe that you are one of the youngest senators to occupy the President's chair, having been born in 1937. You were elected to the Senate in 1975 for New South Wales. Your term expired on 30 June 1978 and then you left us for a brief period but returned on 9 August 1978 following a resignation and the casual vacancy. During your service in the Senate, Mr President, you have had considerable breadth of experience on Senate committees, something which stands any President in good stead-in fact, it stands any human being in good stead. If one can survive all that, one can probably go on to much greater things. You have shown a particular interest in foreign affairs and defence. You served on the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and on various committees on appropriations and staffing and Estimates committees and so on. You have taken a particular interest in foreign affairs and have been a member of a number of parliamentary delegations.

Mr President, as perhaps the youngest person to occupy that chair as President of the Senate, you will have plenty of time to perfect your rulings. It is the Government's intention that you will be there for a considerable period and you will have plenty of time for a long career as President of the Senate. I wish you well and I am sure that whatever their party political persuasions all senators will join with me in wishing you well because a good President is, as you said yourself, for the benefit of the whole Senate and the parliamentary system in Australia.