Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 24 September 2002
Page: 4741


Senator WATSON (4:03 PM) —I, too, wish to say a few words of farewell and well done to former Senator George Georges. George was a colourful, controversial yet dedicated senator—the kind of representative that every parliament really needs, but not necessarily one that every party always wants. Our politics differed markedly but he had some essential characteristics that I always admired. He was a man of great integrity; a man who stood passionately behind his beliefs. With George, you always knew where he stood.

We enjoyed each other's company as members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. This committee is noted for its bipartisan outcomes. It was while travelling with this committee, frequently on an aeroplane or at night over a meal, that George recounted so many of his interesting political experiences—and, of course, he had many. I also recall that George was a hard worker. He frequently moved his caravan week by week, as he flew into a new destination in Queensland. He constantly toured around Queensland and he was regarded as an old-time politician.

He hated badges of authority and compulsory saluting. Two instances come immediately to mind. As has been recalled already, on being sentenced to a 14-day stint in prison, he lasted only a day, owing to his refusal to salute a prison officer—and, it was also alleged, because he had a bad effect on morale. One of the stories goes that the prison officers actually paid his fine in order to get him out of the place.

On another occasion he refused to wear an identifying badge during a Public Accounts Committee inquiry which visited a secure area. To the embarrassment of all at the time, George characteristically stood his ground and refused to wear a badge. He got away with it, although I was very conscious of the fact that an officer was not more than a metre away from him during the entire inspection.

George was a great advocate of cooperative movements to help the poor and the underprivileged. He was a true friend and supporter of the oppressed. We all know that he stood against the Builders Labourers Federation deregulation bill, the Australia Card Bill, the then government's inquiry into Lionel Murphy, and the export of uranium to France, to name but a few of the embarrassments he caused the government of the day. The Age newspaper recalled some advice from John Button that Senator Faulkner referred to earlier with respect to his unpredictability. John said to him, `The trouble with you, George, is that you go off like a bomb but no-one knows when to expect it.'

I take this opportunity to extend my sympathy to George's wife and family. I certainly enjoyed his friendship and I think the parliament is all the poorer for his passing.