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Thursday, 9 June 1994
Page: 1564

Senator ALSTON (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) —I seek leave to speak for two minutes on a matter which I should have dealt with earlier—

Senator Murphy —You should have done it earlier.

Senator ALSTON —I agree. I was provoked and distracted.

Senator Schacht —Leave is granted.

Senator ALSTON —I am indebted to Senator Schacht. It is a very important matter that I did overlook. I wanted to pay particular tribute to the work of the secretariat staff, particularly Richard Gilbert. I am sorry Senator Sherry is not in the chamber because he and Senator Kernot could both attest to the absolute professionalism of Mr Gilbert. The task that has confronted him in this instance, in a very contentious reference, was a herculean one. Those members of the secretariat have laboured mightily at weekends and after hours, at every request made to them by both sides, in preparing drafts for the chairman and for the government members.

  I would also like to pay particular tribute not only to Shane Holt who was with the secretariat in the earlier stages—and who did a very good job before moving on—but particularly to Bruce Houley and Michael Dupe who came in at an advanced stage of the game but who, once again, were absolutely professional, highly efficient and highly intelligent, and were able to bring together the strands in a way that could not be bettered. On that basis I would say that this is certainly the best committee I have ever worked with. I have been very impressed with the quality of the output. I thank them most sincerely on behalf of all members of the committee.