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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3085

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Speaker,of all the rituals of this House the one we are engaged in at present has fallen into the longest disuse. Not since October 1972 have we taken the opportunity to make valedictories of this kind. The Parliaments in April 1974 and November 1975 adjourned rather too hurriedly for us to make these remarks. Accordingly, I shall keep my remarks very brief. I realise that many people outside the Parliament are unkind enough to think that if we say something unpleasant on these occasions we are being provocative and if we say something pleasant we are being insincere.

May I therefore support the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his tributes to those many hundreds of men and women- up to about 1,000-who work in this building. This is one of the most industrious office blocks or factories or plants in the country. Nobody works a 40 hour week here. It would be impossible for us to do our jobs but for the assistance of a very great number of skilled, good humoured and dedicated servants of the Parliament and, through it, of the country. I also support the Prime Minister in the references he has made to those of us who have announced that we will not again be standing for Parliament. Three of them have been Ministers of mine. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the father of the Parliament, entered this House in August 1945. He was only 27 years of age. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) entered the Parliament in 195 1 but had served in two parliaments in Victoria before that. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) has served in the Parliament for 22 years. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Garrick) has served here for eight years but before that had given long public service in local government as a mayor and for nine years as a member of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.

There are two members of the Government parties who have announced that they will not be standing for Parliament again. One is the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), apparently the last person so to be described in this House. The other is the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett). I can say with complete sincerity that I have been to Herbert on very many occasions and to Wimmera on some occasions. On all those occasions in both electorates I have enjoyed the company of these men. They are very good representatives of their electorates. Mr Speaker, I do not propose to single out any other persons for reference. We live an extraordinarily arduous and competitive lifestyle here. I suppose we can take some wry satisfaction from the fact that hundreds of people try at elections to serve in this arduous and competitive environment. I hope that the public benefits from that.

Mr Speaker,it would not be proper for me to conclude my remarks on this occasion without referring to yourself. I had some qualms recently when you went to South Korea because the last Speaker who took time off to go there did not survive the ensuing election. I can say, I believe with complete truth, that you are the only member of your Party who has enhanced his reputation in this Parliament in the eyes of both those who sit on your right and those who sit on your left. May I say, Sir, that when we next assemble and I change sides on this table I look forward, as I said last week, to scrutinising you once again in your proper position of Leader of the Opposition.

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