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Tuesday, 8 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Prime Minister) . - by leave- May I say how much

I appreciate the words of congratulation which have come so generously from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell)? He and I have sat opposite each other for a great many years, advancing as vigorously as we have felt able our respective points of view. We did not always find ourselves in agreement, but there are many matters affecting the wellbeing of Australia on which we have been in agreement. I hope that our daily confrontations in this Parliament, which in his case, I trust, will continue for a considerable time to come, will be marked by that recognition which I know he has always given to the national interest, as I hope I have also. He and I had the privilege of making a contribution to a programme launched by him which has served Australia well - the immigration programme. I know that in matters touching the national interest he has revealed a sense of responsibility which can well serve as a model to members of this Parliament, from whichever side of it they come. For my part, Sir, I share with him the regard for this institution. We are parliamentarians first and servants of the Parliament, even if we have the good fortune to be chosen to serve the nation in executive ministerial capacities.

It is as a servant of the Parliament that I shall report faithfully from time to time what the Government proposes to do or puts forward by way of policy and in the conduct of the affairs of the Parliament which must be made to serve the interests of the people. In that respect I enjoyed the close co-operation of the Leader of the Opposition when I had the duties of Leader of the House to perform. That practice has been followed by his deputy. It is in this friendly, co-operative conduct of the affairs of a representative democracy, however much we may differ on matters of policy, that we find the true expression of a democratic people and a democratic institution. It is in that spirit that we shall occupy our respective roles. I thank the House for its congratulations. In particular I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his personal good wishes.

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