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Tuesday, 24 February 1987
Page: 512


Senator WATSON(4.23) —When Senator Georges notified the Joint Committee of Public Accounts last Wednesday of his decision to stand down as Chairman and as a member of that Committee, he had completed over seven years of service on that Committee and was Chairman for approximately three of those years. As Vice-Chairman of the largest parliamentary committee, I would like to take this opportunity to express my feelings on the important contribution Senator Georges made and the significant work he performed in his capacity as both Chairman and a member of the Committee.

From the early days Senator Georges's participation was always that of a very hardworking and interested member. I recall on several occasions, when he first joined the Committee, he often was urgently called to a meeting merely to fill a quorum but stayed for the rest of the day or the rest of the discussion because he found the work so challenging. Senator Georges was not only a great member of the Committee but also a great parliamentarian. Despite our different approaches to solving Australia's problems and providing platforms for the future, Senator Georges's chairmanship was always completely objective and constructive. He was always consistent in his approach and was kind and considerate to witnesses, particularly when they were in difficulty. However, on occasions when they sought to withhold information from the Committee or mislead the Committee we were all familiar with the full wrath and scorn that Senator Georges could unleash on such people. Senator Georges used the Committee because he believed that it was a very valuable mechanism of parliamentary scrutiny of the activities of the Executive. As both a Committee member and its Chairman he was rather concerned about the growth of the Executive's powers and influence in recent years. He therefore sought to uphold the institutions of parliament, parliamentary procedures and all the checks and balances this place provided to ensure that Parliament was supreme.

Senator Georges presented about 60 reports to the Parliament on behalf of the Committee, dealing with a broad range of issues. One of the Government's responses to a Public Accounts Committee report was debated in this chamber today. Those reports included reports on medifraud and overservicing, Tobruk, defence project management and several reviews of major computing systems. My personal experience of working with Senator Georges on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts brought to my attention the value of the long-standing service he has offered which is worthy of this recognition. I also take this opportunity to welcome Senator Giles, the new member, to the Committee.