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Friday, 25 June 1926

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I thank the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and Senator Needham for their kind remarks, andI appreciate also the sympathetic manner in which they were received by honorable senators. Looking around this chamber, I can see only three who were members of it when first I became a senator in 1910. I cannot help thinking it is strange that I was not defeated before now, because, possibly, I deserved defeat on many occasions. Next week Senator Wilson, who, till a day or two ago, was Minister for Markets and Migration, will be on the same side of the Senate as I am - the outside. I am not sure that we were not destined to be on the same side in politics in any case. I have always felt that on many public questions he was with me. I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that, although on many occasions these words of farewell are uttered somewhat lightly, in some cases they mean the final good-bye. So I say good-bye to all honorable senators who are listening to me now. Although we have had our differences in debate on many occasions, I leave this chamber without the slightest feeling of ill-will towards any one.

Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!

Senator GARDINER - Frequently during my career in this chamber, I have been in conflict with the Chair, both in the Senate and in committee, but I can assure honorable senators that if I have been a source of annoyance to the President or the Chairman of Committees, it is because I have ever been watchful, and have not hesitated to resent and resist any departure from what I regarded as the proper parliamentary practice. As I am about to leave the Senate, I advise the younger members of it to watch procedure carefully, and resist to the utmost any departure from the regular practice in the conduct of the business of this chamber. As for the Leader of the Senate, I can only say that although Senator Pearce and I have drifted apart politically, we are still firm personal friends.

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear!

Senator GARDINER -Whilst I have bitterly opposed the right honorable gentleman on many occasions in respect of his public policy, I have never been unmindful of the value of his services to the community. I may add that last night I was pleased to find the right honorable gentleman in his most aggressive mood, and I enjoyed as thoroughly as any other honorable senator the final caning which he gave me. I happen to know the reason. For once I had achieved something. I had talked one of my audience to sleep. Senator Pearce slept on serenely and dreamed a dream. Then, when he awoke, he castigated me severely. I appreciated the drubbing which he gave me. And now, as I am about to leave the Senate, I extend to honorable senators on both sides my best wishes for the future, and am vain enough to believe that I carry with me the good wishes of all.

Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!

Senator GARDINER - I have spent many years in the political life of Australia. To all I think there comes a time when one thinks that one can get too much of a good thing. On the 14th of July next it will be 35 years since I entered public life in New South Wales as a Labour member. I have been sixteen years a member of this chamber, and I have been through strenuous sessions, but I feel that I may yet perform useful service for many years outside this Parliament. I understand the parliamentary machine.I understand the difficulties of members of Parliament, and, whether inside or outside of Parliament, I shall always be loyal to the institution which I value so highly. I thank you, Mr. President, and all honorable senators for kindnesses received during my term as a senator. I should also like to take this opportunity to thank the officers of the Senate, those gentlemen who unostentatiously do so much to facilitate the transaction of public business, for the assistance which they have at all times been so ready to give. I may, perhaps, be permitted to say that, had the people, as I anticipated they would, returned Labour to power at the last election, I intended to aspire to the position of President of this chamber, largely in order to do what I could to make the positions of our officers easier than they have been. The electors willed otherwise; but I see possibilities with the incoming President.

Having said so much, may I be pardoned ifI say a little more, and add a word of praise for a gentleman who is not an officer of the Parliament? I wish to place on record my high regard for Mr. Eric Tonkin, who forthe last eight years has rendered excellent service to me as secretary to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I am under a deep obligation to him. Now may I say a word or two for the members of the fourth estate? The press has treated me well, although it has not always reported speeches which I wished to be reported. 1 thank its representatives in this chamber. As a defeated candidate at the last election, I may be regarded as a political casualty. For the time being I have been put out of action as a senator, but my life's work is not yet finished. I still have the vigour of a strong frame, and I feel that for many years I may be permitted to continue my work in another sphere of political action.

Senator Sir VICTORWILSON (South Australia) [1.9]. - I also wish to thank the Lender of the Senate (Senator Pearce) as well as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) and the Deputy Leader (Senator Needham) for their kindly references to me. I heartily endorse all that has been said in appreciation of Senator Gardiner, who, with me, is about to sever his connexion with this chamber. When I came here six years ago, Senator Gardiner was alone on the Opposition benches. I also was alone, so in some respects we were kindred spirits, and to some extent were drawn towards one another. Senator Gardiner remarked just now that he and Senator Pearce had drifted apart politically. On the contrary, I can say that Senator Pearce and I have been drawn together politically, and I have the highest regard for the right honorable gentleman who has been leading the Senate for so long. I have the greatest admiration for his outstanding ability, and have had many evidences of his unfailing courtesy. I have always found him ready to assist other honorable senators in every way possible. This will be my last appearance in the Senate, at all events for some time.Ican assure honorable senators that I have the highest personal regard for them all, and I wish them well. In leaving I earnestly counsel them to be loyal one to the other. Public men in the performance of difficult tasks have a right to expect the loyalty of their fellow workers. Few people realize the tremendous sacrifices that are made by many of the men who do the public work of this country. To a considerable extent they have to give up home life, the comfort of the fire-side, and the privilege of daily family intercourse. Nevertheless, I leave this Senate with feelings of regret. I trust all honorable senators will have a very prosperous future.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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