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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1721


Senator MACKLIN —by leave-One of the interesting things about people when they are elected to parliament is that most of the population seems to assume that they cease to be human beings. When one comes to this place, as I did six years ago, it is not very long before one sorts out those who have retained their humanity and those who have in fact turned into the archetypal politician. On I think the second day that I was around this place, Senator Don Grimes came up to me and said hello. He was the first shadow Minister to do so. He is that type of person. Obviously he had seen me wandering around trying to find my way back to my room on one occasion. After that he was always ready to say hello, to be human, to have a joke, to sit down in the members' dining room and have lunch. He did that with not only myself but also many other people, and it became fairly obvious-having heard that he was going to retire and discussed it-that almost everybody had had the same experience. I think that is why he will be missed.

Viewed from this angle, I think that the actual seat that is preserved for those in charge of Government Business will be a lot better off because of the absence of a characteristic stance of the honourable senator during Question Time-putting his foot up on the seat and grinding it in as he moved through his answers. That stance was particularly his own, especially when as shadow Minister he made those speeches which one could probably have collected into a book, on the Greek conspiracy case. I am not sure how many speeches on that subject I sat through. At the time I thought that one had to sit in here and listen to everything! Certainly his speeches went on for hours and hours and week after week. Probably a transcript of them would be somewhat longer than that of the court case which subsequently followed.

I will miss him-I hope that I can be counted amongst his friends-and I am sure that many who are not members of his political party feel the same way. That sort of thing does not happen here all that often. It might be, as Senator Chaney has said, a result of events which happened in the not too distant past, but his departure is a pity in many ways. I hope that he will enjoy his new post. I, for one, have been a very strong supporter of the view that people who achieve ministerial rank or other such positions in this place are eminently equipped to represent Australia overseas. I have always found it very odd that that should be decried in the media. I believe that a person who has achieved such rank in serving the population, who has achieved such support from his or her own colleagues as to be made a Minister of state, can do far more for this country in an overseas posting than could most people who have had a normal Public Service career. That might be an unpopular view but from talking to various people in the Parliament and from the visits that I have made overseas I have become convinced that the ability of Ministers, of no matter what government, to fill that type of position and work well at it for the benefit of this country will eventually be appreciated by the population in general. Just as our former President is no doubt by now on speaking terms with the Monarch, I am quite sure that in a few months Senator Grimes will enjoy an enormously wide circle of friends in the Hague. For that reason I think that he will be able to serve his country as well there as he has served it here.