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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1724

Senator ROBERTSON -by leave-I would like to be associated with the comments that have already been made. It must be very gratifying to Don to hear people right round the chamber make such comments about him. It is very pleasing that we are able to say nice things about colleagues while they are still with us. I will be very brief but would make the point that a special relationship is built up between a manager and a Whip. We have had six years to build up such a relationship. Let me say that it is one that I have appreciated. While I am inclined to the view that Senator Georges has put regarding the position of Manager of Government Business, I am certainly firmly of the opinion that the position should not be held by a person who is a senior Cabinet Minister or Deputy Leader, and feel that Don's brush with the `Black and Decker' last year was brought on by a combination of the positions that he held. It is most unfortunate that anyone should be asked to bear that sort of strain. That aside, if we are to have a manager, let me say that Don has been ideal in the position. If we are to believe the Opposition, which it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do lately, it agrees with that proposition.

I suppose that it is difficult to compliment one incumbent without appearing to invite comparison with others, although some honourable senators are not quite so considerate about it as I am. I have no desire to do that. However, I would mention two features for which I think Don will be remembered. First, the so-called `laid back' style is not really that at all. It is really an appreciation of others, a sensitivity for their feelings and a desire to meet their requests whenever he can. In fact, the only criticism I would make of Don was his inability to say no to Ministers in the other place when they wanted to get Bills up here and we had a lot of work to do. The second thing for which he will be remembered was his willingness to help colleagues, particularly junior colleagues, and come to their aid in the chamber with that wonderful wit, which has already been referred to, and ability to defuse a situation and get a friend out of trouble. I wish him well in his new positions, because they are plural. He has a number of jobs to go to before he gets to the Hague, and I trust that both he and Helen will enjoy their posting when they do arrive.

At the risk of upsetting my deputy, I will adapt a few lines from Burns which will be known to many here. I say to Don:

Tho' you to ither lands must hie

Pursuin fortune's sliddery ba'

Wi melting heart and brimfu' eye

We'll mind you still, tho' far awa.