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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 8149

Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (7:41 AM) —I want to make a few brief comments in the valedictories that we are conducting at this unusual time of 17 minutes to 8 a.m., just in case anyone reads Hansard—it is unlikely, I know—and thinks I meant p.m. On behalf of the opposition I thank, as I always do, the President, the Deputy President and those others that preside in the chamber. On behalf of the opposition I would also like to thank the Clerk, the Deputy Clerk and all the other clerks, the Clerks Assistant, and those in the clerks' offices who do assist all of us in this chamber. We ought to note that the demands on the clerks in this chamber are very heavy at times. Today is an excellent example of that. We do appreciate their assistance. We also appreciate the assistance of so many others in this parliament.

More generally, I want to thank the staff of the Department of the Senate, the Table Office, Hansard and the Parliamentary Library as well as the attendants, Comcar drivers, cleaners, gardeners, transport officers, those in the dining room, the security staff, the Synergy Travel staff and so many others in this building who assist us throughout the year and contribute in such important ways to the successful operation of the parliament. As we know, in the parliament there is always very much a focus on the parliamentarians—the politicians themselves. But I want to say on behalf of my colleagues how much we appreciate our staff and the staff of others in this building. We do appreciate all their efforts. I also want to say that we do not forget the staff of Senate committees, who have an onerous task as well. We do appreciate the efforts of all those around the building who do assist us and make life more livable in this building. As far as the opposition is concerned, I look behind me and, even though it is a tired team, I think to myself, `What a terrific team it is!'

Senator Mackay —We came in to listen to you!

Senator FAULKNER —Thank you very much, Senator Mackay, I have no idea why you are not out having breakfast, to be honest, but I am sure there is a good explanation for the fact that you are here. I did want to thank particularly the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Conroy—

Senator Mackay —He is not here.

Senator FAULKNER —He is not here, but I am sure he would appreciate being mentioned.

Senator Patterson —He is glued to the TV waiting to hear his name!

Senator FAULKNER —If he has got any sense, he will be asleep. I want to thank those who are responsible for the chamber management, which is always a difficult task in the Senate—Senator Ludwig, the Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator Mackay, the Opposition Whip, and her two very efficient deputy whips. They do a great job and I think you would acknowledge, Mr Acting Deputy President Brandis, how important the chamber managers are on both sides of the parliament. Without their efforts, this place does not work effectively. Although things do happen on the floor of the chamber from time to time, so much happens outside the chamber or away from the microphones and I think that we ought to acknowledge that. I want to say very briefly that in this year of course the opposition farewelled six of our colleagues, former senators Crowley, Cooney, McKiernan, Schacht, West, and Gibbs. We wish them well in their future careers. I am also delighted to have welcomed six new Labor senators to our team. They are already making a very significant and important contribution in this place.

I also want to pay a personal tribute to my own staff, who have an enormous amount to put up with. I always say in opposition that we have a very small staff, but we have an extraordinarily effective staff and so much of what we are able to achieve is dependent upon them. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of my own staff, and I know that my colleagues genuinely appreciate the efforts of their staff. It has been so important to us over the past year. On behalf of the opposition I want to say formally that we wish colleagues well for the Christmas season and wish them all the best for the new year. On a day like today I can say to all those people, particularly those who work in the building, that I hope they have an enjoyable festive season and a happy new year. I particularly hope that they enjoy a very well-deserved rest.