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Thursday, 8 December 1938

Mr CURTIN (Fremantle) .- I reciprocate all that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has said. So far as his expressions are related to myself, I have always felt that parliamentary institutions and democratic States should make manifest that the differences which mark political parties should be capable of examination, statement and challenge, while always upholding the dignity of parliament and what I hope to be the desire of the Australian people to consider in a tolerant spirit views with which they may not agree. I sincerely hope that, whatever changes may take place in this Parliament and whatever men or women come into it or go out of it, there will always be adherence to those traditions which we have inherited, whereby we can have our fights - indeed sometimes our scenes - but, nonetheless, we shall always have within ourselves capacity to rise to the highest requirements of our offices.

To you, Mr. Speaker, I express appreciation for the way in which you have presided over our deliberations, and I hope that you .have a happy Christmas. To all other officers of the House, the Clerks and the Hansard staff, and all. who attend upon us in the performance of their duties, I express indebtedness for their ability and courtesy. I am sure that I speak for my supporters when I say that they all value the assistance given to them by all officers.

I am grateful for the reference made to my deputy the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). He is an industrious and hard-working man who carries, out his duties in such a way that without him I should find it impossible to carry on.

Mr Brennan - He is a " snifter ".

Mr CURTIN - He is. If I may pay a tribute to my " snifters " of lesser rank, I thank them and respect them for the great aid that they have been to me throughout the year. All have done their best to play their parts. We do not say that we are 100 per cent, in agreement on everything. We come from various parts of Australia and represent varying categories of life in this Commonwealth.

We are in agreement on high principle and broad policies. We stand for what is known as the principles of labour. But there is individuality in this party. Members of the Labour party have varying points of view and avenues of approach to different matters. It has never been true that the Australian Labour party is merely an iron machine in which no man can have a soul of his own. On the contrary, it is a party in which every man is the captain of his soul and has a freedom to deal with the problems of his country that cannot be approached by any other party.

I should like fo express to the Prime Minister particularly, to the Deputy Prime Minister and to the Ministers of State and Assistant Ministers, my appreciation of the courtesy that they have extended to me in allowing,' on many occasions, their departmental officers, to whom I am also deeply indebted, to give to me their assistance. I hope that each of them will have a happy Christmas and a new year happier and better than this year. This Parliament has had many exacting duties this year. It will, I think, in the year to come still have tasks of a formidable character to encounter. But, whatever be the political fortunes of parties in this Parliament, it is my prayer that in 1939 this country, and indeed the people at large, will find the world a better place - not only better, but also one in which our highest hopes may be in process of realization.

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