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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 1483


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (1:30 PM) —On behalf of Family First, I would like to wish Senator Robert Ray well in his retirement and also welcome Jacinta Collins back to the Senate. Twenty-seven years in parliament is no mean feat. I do not have stories of funny interactions with Robert Ray, but I do remember fondly the Australian Financial Review giving me some advice. It was at a time that I was throwing up my hands at Senate estimates and saying I thought Senate estimates was a place to find out what departments were actually doing with their budgets, where their work was going, what the issues were and what they were up to. They quickly told me that there were no simple questions and no simple answers and that in actual fact I should take a leaf out of Senator Ray’s book and look at the work that he had been doing in Senate estimates for many years. So I think that is to his credit, as is his work around the chamber and in estimates. As Senator Collins was saying, his assertiveness and the way he went about his business were certainly a credit to him, his party and also all Australians, because he held the Senate in such high regard as a place to make sure that the government of the day was held to account. I want to say to Robert Ray that his was certainly a real example to show how to be a senator serious about getting to the bottom of issues and that I wish him well in his retirement.