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Monday, 7 July 2014
Page: 4155


The PRESIDENT (10:45): Please be seated, colleagues. I am sorry it took so long to get to the chair, but I am supposed to show some reluctance! Thank you very much. I truly appreciate the honour that each of you has bestowed upon me. It is something that I do not take lightly. I intend to continue as I did as Deputy President and be impartial. That is fair warning to both sides and to the crossbenchers. I will be impartial in my role. I will take it very seriously. I will build upon the trust and the commitment that had already started in my previous role. I look forward to working with each of you as we move forward in this Senate, which has a different configuration to most others. I thank you for your warm wishes just then. I realise that this role is not only to preside over the parliament here in this chamber but also, jointly with the Speaker of the House, to preside over and administer the parliament estate. In that aspect, I intend to defend the parliament as being truly independent, especially independent from the executive government. I think that is an important aspect about every Presiding Officer. The executive government has a right to govern, and we must respect that, but, equally, the parliament itself should be independent from the executive. In that way, too, I think the funding and the financial aspects concerning the parliament should be brought back into the parliament and should not be with the executive government. However, I do acknowledge the executive government has a very important role to play in governing this country, with proper supervision, scrutiny and review from this parliament. Colleagues, thank you again. I understand that the Governor-General will be waiting to greet us shortly. I do appreciate the honour you have bestowed upon me and I look forward to working with you. I regard myself as your servant.