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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Minister for Trade) (2:40 AM) . - I would not wish the Parliament to adjourn without associating myself as leader of the Australian Country Party and my colleagues of the Country Party with the good wishes that have been expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I extend for myself and the members of my party our very best wishes to you, Mr. Speaker, and congratulate you upon the dignity with which you have occupied your high office and the impartiality with which you have discharged your duties. At the same time, I would wish to express the same thoughts for my colleague, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) who, as Chairman of Committees of this Parliament we will all recall, acts with impartiality and dignity. The honorable member is a gentleman who has served this country well in war, in peace and in this Parliament. We extend to him our best wishes for good health. We thank the Temporary Chairmen of Committees who have served the House and occupied the Chair with distinction. 1 wish to extend my congratulations to the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). In the to and fro of Parliament we respect the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy and those who sit behind him. On this occasion when there is no fray, we join in extending to them best wishes for the Christmas tide and minimized good wishes for twelve months hence.

There is particular significance for me and my colleagues of the Country Party in this adjournment. To-day signifies the last appearance as a Minister in the Parliament of a great and warm colleague of ours, Senator Sir Walter Cooper, who is relinquishing the portfolio of Minister for Repatriation. I speak for my colleagues and, I am sure, for all members when I say that here is a great Australian man who has served this country with great distinction, with great understanding and with great credit to the office he has occupied for a very long time. He has occupied that office for eleven years and, with a short break, he has been a member of this Parliament since 1928. Therefore he must be one of the longest-serving members of the Parliament. We would all wish Senator Sir Walter Cooper the very best on his relinquishing his ministerial office, as he will do in the very near future.

I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in extending our felicitations and thanks to the Clerk of the House and to those officers of the Parliament who serve within the House; also to the. " Hansard " staff, the Government Printing Office staff, the Library people and those who work in the refreshment-rooms - indeed, to all those who aid the Parliament of this democracy in operating as it does. A happy Christmas to you all and the very best wishes for the New Year.

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