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Tuesday, 24 September 2002
Page: 4737


Senator HILL (Leader of the Government in the Senate) (3:38 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate records its deep regret at the death, on 23 September 2002, of George Georges, former senator for Queensland, and places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

George Georges was born on 15 April 1920 in Darwin in the Northern Territory. He became a Labor senator for Queensland on 1 July 1968. He was Opposition Whip in the Senate from 27 January 1976 to 23 November 1980. He served as a senator until June 1987.

He was a member and contributed to a number of parliamentary sittings. He served as Chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from 11 May 1983 to 24 February 1987 and as Chair of the Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. He also served on the Senate Select Committee on the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975, the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare and the Senate Estimates Committee F.

In his first speech in the Senate, George Georges, in speaking on the budget, focused on the need to support families and ex-servicemen and spoke against involvement in the Vietnam War.

He was a hard-working senator and clearly a man of integrity. He made prominent stands to support his beliefs, crossing the floor of parliament, leading campaigns against the Vietnam War and leading street marches in Queensland supporting the right to protest and freedom of speech. He was also a leading figure in the Palm Sunday peace rallies.

His parliamentary career was punctuated by some dramatic moments but I think they only underline the strength of his beliefs. He crossed the floor of the Senate to vote against deregistration of the Builders Labourers Federation and for that was suspended from the ALP. After crossing the floor again to vote against the Australia Card legislation, he resigned from the ALP serving as an Independent senator from December 1986 until his departure in June 1987.

His period in the Senate and mine crossed by about six years, so whilst I did not know him well I nevertheless had considerable opportunity to watch and, I might say, learn from him. I remember his passion, his genuine belief for his causes, his commitment to public service and I also remember his sense of humour. This was reflected in his last speech in the Senate where he cited `a couple of small physical things' that he had achieved. One of his achievements was to get flashing lights installed in the toilets after making what he described as a `brilliant' adjournment speech—which is more than what some senators have achieved. Another of his achievements was, after breaking a rib, to get a couple of signs in Kings Hall saying, `Take care on polished floor.'

Mr President, on behalf of the government, I extend to his wife, Gloria, and to other family members and friends, our most sincere sympathy in their bereavement.