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Friday, 10 December 1965

Sir ROBERT MENZIES (KooyongPrime Minister) . - On the assurance of my colleague that all seems clear elsewhere, I move -

That the House do now adjourn. 1 would like to remind honorable members - I am sure they have forgotten - that this will be our last day of sitting before Christmas and the New Year. Therefore, it is proper that I should say a few words about you, Sir, about those associated with you and about those who look after us in this place. It has been a very strenuous session, a very strenuous year, and in those circumstances I continue to marvel at your own uniform fairness and good temper, because both qualities can easily be strained in the course of a long session. We are indebted to you for them.

We are indebted to the Chairman and the Temporary Chairman of Committees. We are indebted, as always, to the Whips who " do good by stealth and blush to find it fame ", but upon whom we all, on both sides of the House, depend a great deal. They have done their work extremely well. I want to say " Thank you " to the Clerks at the Table and to the whole of the parliamentary staff, because they bring to bear on our work a degree of expertise and of guidance that is highly appreciated on both sides of the House. I want to say thank you on your behalf, Mr. Speaker, to " Hansard ", to the broadcasting functionaries, to the staff of the Library, to the attendants in the House and to those who look after the refreshment services and the other amenities of the Parliament.

Mr Calwell - Do not forget the telephonists.

Sir ROBERT MENZIES - I am reminded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that I might say a kind word about the telephonists, with whose voices I am quite familiar, particularly when there is a Party meeting. They do a great job and we are indebted to them.

These remarks I have just made are normal enough on this occasion, but I do want to say - and I say this as a great respecter of Parliament and of the parliamentary institution - that the standard of the Parliament and the standing of the Parliament both depend far more than some people think on the attitude of the members of Parliament. I am bound to say, as a very old inhabitant - one of the three fathers of the House - that I do not remember any Parliament in which members have worked harder, in which they have made more definite, positive contributions to debate than this Parliament. This augurs well for the future. It is easy enough for the onlooker to be a little cynical about Parliament. That is a rather cheap thing. Parliament is the supreme forum of the nation. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia is more democratically representative of the people of Australia than almost any other Parliament that I can think of is representative of a people. The result, when we have a proper representation of the people, and members bend themselves to their duties in this Parliament, is that this becomes a good Parliament, and I am perfectly certain that the contribution that has been made by all honorable members to the standing and work of this House will be remembered to their credit and will inure for the benefit of the standing of the Parliamentary institution itself in our own democratic world.

A good parliament cannot exist without good members. A good parliament cannot exist without good debate - strong debate, strenuous debate and, every now and then, if you like, heated debate. But we all know from our experience that when the debates are over we look round the House and we on each side of the House know that we have a lot of close personal friends among our political opponents. This is as it should be. And this atmosphere, this performance, makes this a good Parliament. I am very proud to have served in this Parliament, because I think it has made its own invaluable contribution to the political history of Australia.

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