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Wednesday, 4 June 1947

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon Gordon Brown (QUEENSLAND) - I cannot forbear from saying a few words on this occasion. I have the highest regard for Senator McLeay, both as a man and as a parliamentarian. He has rendered great service to his country and also to members of this chamber. At the risk of making an invidious distinction, I should like to say a few words in regard to my good friend Senator Leckie particularly. Honorable senators will appreciate that it is often somewhat difficult for the President of this chamber to refrain from taking part in debates. In the years when I was a member of this chamber before assuming the office of President, I was active in debate and naturally there are times when I feel rather keenly the loss of the freedom that I once enjoyed. However, my interest in the proceedings of this chamber has always been enlivened by Senator Leckie's speeches. When he has something to say, he says it in an incisive way. Very often he gets under the skin of members of my party, and even under my own skin. We have enjoyed listening to his speeches. There is no doubt about his ability, and he has been an interesting and colorful member of the Senate.

Senator J.B. Hayes is one of nature's gentlemen who has honoured the Senate by his presence. He has rendered valuable service to his country and has never taken an unfair advantage of his opponents. His colleague, Senator Herbert Hays, also will be leaving us. On occasions when I have been anxious to vacate the Chair, the honorable senator has continued speaking when I expected him to stop. The honorable senator has great ability in that direction. He has been a diligent senator and has put the case forcibly on behalf of the interests that he represents. Other honorable senators who will be leaving us include Senator James McLachlan, a dour Scot, who takes his politics seriously. We shall miss him. He smote us with an oratorial mallet, and reminded us forcibly that there were other parties besides the Labour party. Senator Sampson, better known to many of us as " Sammy ", will also be missed. I cannot forbear to mention Senator Sampson's insistence on the need to defend Australia. Even when his arguments were unpopular, he stuck to them. I- have a great regard for his persistence. Senator Foll is not with us to-day, but, like his colleague from Queensland, Senator Crawford, who also has spent 30 years in the Senate, he has almost a record for length of service. I hope that I shall be able to break his record.

We have already said farewell to Senator Gibson. Senator Collett is an old soldier whose speeches always read well. The honorable senator is a quiet gentleman, but whenever he has spoken he has had something of importance to say. I have always listened to him with great interest. Senator Allan MacDonald has already left for Western Australia. I wish him well. I regret that my old friend Senator Brand is not in the chamber at the moment. I know that he was greatly astonished when he was defeated, but defeat as well as victory is the lot of those who engage in politics. All of us in our turn will be defeated, if not by the electors, then by " Father Time". Senator Brand did not make long speeches, and occasionally he read them. Although that was contrary to the Standing Orders, I never intervened because he always had something worth while to say.

It has been very interesting to me to reflect that, after many years, there has been a turn of the wheel of fate. When I entered the Senate in 1932 there were only three Labour members here - Senator Joseph Silver Collings, Senator J. V. MacDonald and myself. We were known as " The Three Musketeers ". There was never any argument among us because each held an office; Senator Collings was Leader of the Opposition, I was its Deputy Leader, and Senator J. V. MacDonald was the Whip. That reminds me that at an earlier period there was only one Labour senator who was Leader, Deputy Leader, Whip, Secretary and rank and file of the Labour party. The wheel has turned, and after the 30th June there will be 33 Labour senators and only three Opposition members. If those three Opposition senators follow the example of Senator Collings the Senate will not be short of Opposition speeches. I wish well all who are leaving us. I hope that they will listen occasionally to the speeches made in the Senate, and that they will live long to enjoy their retirement.

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