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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) (2:32 AM) . - Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Opposition, I join in the felicitations that have been expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) particularly to you, Sir, for your impartiality, generosity, and understanding; and, after you, to the table officers for their help on all occasions, for their appreciation of the needs of the members of the Parliament, and for their willingness to help to make the work of the Parliament easier by advising members of their rights, assisting them in preparing amendments and keeping them on the straight and narrow path in regard to procedure. After the table officers and their assistants, and the officers of the records office downstairs, come all the other people - the attendants, the people who serve us in the dining rooms and the broadcasters.

There are also the " Hansard " reporters to whom the Prime Minister paid a fitting tribute and whose very presence here is so necessary if our words are to be recorded so that they can be published in due course in journals throughout the electorates. The work of " Hansard " is necessary if our words are to be preserved so that they can be quoted for us or against us in the years ahead. We are very grateful to the officers of " Hansard " at all times. They are very painstaking. Not only do they send proofs along for corrections but they even follow members up to make sure that the corrected proofs are returned. This is an added service. Then, Sir, come all those people who staff the Government Printing Office and who work very late to produce that daily " Hansard " which is so valuable now. This is one of the innovations of the Parliament since 1949 which is particularly helpful to members, and to the general public. To all those in the Government Printing Office we are most grateful.

We also owe a debt to the Library staff - to the girls who serve behind the counter, to the Librarian, Mr. White, and all the others who have given us a great deal of service over the years. Now, Sir, I come to the point at which the Prime Minister commenced: I wish our privileged rivals a very happy Christmas. We wish them a prosperous and happy New Year. We hope they and their families will have good health during the year, because the work of a parliamentarian is quite strenuous and so much time is spent away from our homes that when sickness strikes down any member of the Parliament, we have a feeling of very great regret for the particular person and his family and we wonder how much we have deprived ourselves and our own families of company we should have shared with them.

Next year, of course, we will probably adjourn earlier than 8th December, but no one knows. We had an idea the other day that perhaps we might have had a double dissolution some time next year. But in any case, the Parliament will move to its close some time towards the end of next year. In the meantime, while we transact our business in this House, we will have our differences. We will clash on occasions, but beneath it all, although we fight vigorously for our point of view, we have a mutual respect for each other and I hope a tolerance, too, which may wear a little thin at times but is always present. When the heat of the contest is over we can meet as friends and respect each other's point of view. If we cannot do that, there is not much hope for democracy. The great idea about a democratic institution is that we can agree to disagree. In our system of government, there must always be a government which has the support of the majority of the people and some others who can form an alternative government if people wish to change their minds.

I have taken longer than I intended, Sir, but I repeat how much we on the Opposition side are indebted to everybody who has helped. Even to our opponents at this time of the year, we feel in friendly mood.

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