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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1721

Senator COATES —by leave-Mr President, if I may presume to speak on behalf of the back bench of the Australian Labor Party in this place, and as a fellow Tasmanian, I want to express my regret at Senator Don Grimes's departure. When he came to this Parliament I was already a veteran of 18 months in this place. Eighteen months with the Whitlam Government was quite a long time, I assure everyone, as a learning experience. Certainly during the events of that time, and since I was returned in 1981, Don Grimes has been a very important part of my membership of this Parliament. Because of my position as the Chair of the Caucus Welfare Committee, especially, and because of the ministries that he has held, we have needed a close relationship. That relationship has been very valuable and I think that most of us have appreciated his advice and influence. That is not to say that we have not had plenty of disagreements upon issues in the welfare area and others, but I certainly have appreciated his help and advice over the years.

Perhaps I could also presume to speak on behalf of others who are unable to speak in this place. I refer to his staff, past and present, in Launceston and Canberra, who have been of benefit to him over the years and who too will miss him more than perhaps he realises, despite some of the frustrations that may have been involved in working for him-as I think all of our staff can be frustrated with us. I would like to say on their behalf that they, as I think everyone around this place knows-and perhaps I should add the Parliament House staff generally-will miss him. I think that in many ways he will miss the Senate desperately. I know that he believes his decision is correct but I think he will miss the excitement that can occur in this place from time to time. We will certainly miss him. Already the place is not the same.