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Thursday, 4 June 1987
Page: 4039

Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister) —I move:

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and an hour to be fixed by the Speaker, or, in the event of the Speaker being unavailable, by the Chairman of Committees, which time of meeting shall be notified to each member by telegram or letter.

At the closing of this House, honourable members will disperse throughout the country, most to contest an election which I think can be fairly described as a watershed in the life of our nation. I say, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) will appreciate, without any hint of partisanship, that in pondering their individual electorate decisions, the Australian people will be able to choose between clear alternatives. They will have clear alternatives as to leaders, policies, style and ideology. I am sure that we all, whatever our very profound differences, trust to the collective wisdom of the Australian people in making their choice.

Before those of us who seek to continue to serve the people in a parliamentary capacity become completely immersed in the tumult of the election campaign, I believe that it is appropriate in these closing moments of the Thirty-fourth Parliament to make a number of comments. Madam Speaker, your own elevation to the high office that you now hold was certainly one of the most noteworthy features of this Parliament. As I observed when this House elected you as its Presiding Officer, it was both a great personal achievement and, in your being the first woman to be so elected, it was by any standards highly symbolic.

I do not want to refer to what we on this side of the House regard as the more important of our achievements. I simply content myself by say that as a government we look back with pride upon a great number of quite remarkable achievements. Much of the time of this Parliament has been taken up in considering matters essential to the government of the nation. In all, this House sat for 184 days during which time it passed some 550 Bills. I hesitate to hazard a guess as to how many papers have been tabled, questions asked, insults traded in the heat of debate and ambitions thwarted.

I believe it is important to note that among us this evening there are some who will not be returning to this place. To the many on the other side of the House who will be involuntarily retired at the request of the people I say with all the graciousness that I can summon that I wish them well in their post-parliamentary careers. On our side of the House, Ralph Jacobi is not seeking re-election to the seat of Hawker. Ralph has represented the people of this seat in South Australia since 1969. He has served on the Standing Committee on Privileges, the Library Committee of this House and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Len Keogh from this side of the House was not successful in retaining party pre- selection, which is obviously a considerable disappointment to Len and one of the hazards that all politicians face. I record that Len has represented the electorate of Bowman for two separate periods-from 1969 to 1975 and again from 1983. He chaired the House Standing Committee on Procedure and has been Deputy Chairman of Committees from February 1984.

From the other side of the House, Peter Drummond also was not successful in retaining his Party's preselection for the seat of Forrest in Western Australia. Peter has held that seat since 1972 and, as well as holding the position of Deputy Chairman of Committees, he has served on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation, a number of select committees and the Public Works Committee. Peter Coleman is retiring after representing the seat of Wentworth in New South Wales since 1981. He was a former Minister in a New South Wales State Government and was then Leader of the New South Wales Opposition. In this place he has served on the Standing Committee on Publications and the Joint Standing Committee on the Australian Capital Territory and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Paul Everingham entered this House as the member for the Northern Territory following the 1984 election, having been Chief Minister of the Northern Territory for the preceding six years. He served in this place on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. To all of those members, each of whom has made a considerable and greatly appreciated contribution to this House, I express our thanks for their services to the Parliament and extend to each and every one of them our best wishes for their future.

I also pay tribute to two members on this side of the House who will be returning after the election but who have indicated that they will not be standing for the ministry again. I refer to the father of the House, the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services (Mr Uren), and to the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes). Tom Uren, who, as I said, is the father of the House, entered this chamber in 1958, which seems like a thousand years ago. Fortunately, this is not a farewell to him as we will all continue to benefit from his counsel and company. However, I express my thanks for his great contribution to both my ministry and the Whitlam ministry. Tom Uren is a man who cares very deeply about people and issues. In the sector of public affairs where these two things come so close together in local government, his contribution by any standard has been absolutely outstanding. I have found that wherever I have gone around this country, irrespective of the political complexion of the leaders of local government and whatever their own politics, there is absolute unanimity about the outstanding contribution that has been made by Tom Uren. I pay very great tribute to him. I think I can say without the possibility of any contradiction that Tom Uren is admired and respected on both sides of the House.

Gordon Scholes also will not be standing for the ministry and, again, we are glad that he will be rejoining the Government benches after the election. Gordon has served the Parliament with dedication as Speaker, as you know Madam Speaker. Indeed he did it in the most difficult period of this Parliament's history. In more recent times he has been a valued ministerial colleague in two portfolios. In passing, I point out that the decisions by Mr Uren and Mr Scholes emphasise a remarkable fact about this Government, and that is its stability, which is unmatched by any other government in Australian history. With the exception of one retirement from political life, this team has served together since March 1983.

I have talked about the people who will not be with us and people who will be here in different capacities. It is true, as we all know, that many people contribute to the smooth working of this House. Madam Speaker, I know that your own role in conducting proceedings is critical and often thankless. I believe without question that you have justified the trust of the House in electing you as its Speaker. You have been most ably assisted by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Leo McLeay), in his capacity as your deputy and as Chairman of Committees; and you have also been well served, as we have, by those members who serve as Deputy Chairman of Committees. I also pay tribute to the officers of this House in their untiring labours to impose some sense of order into what could so easily descend into chaos but which, because of their efforts, never quite does. On behalf of us all, Madam Speaker, I express gratitude to the Clerk of the House, the Deputy Clerk, the Serjeant-at-Arms, other parliamentary officers, the table office and the attendants.

The Principal Parliamentary Reporter and the Hansard staff have maintained throughout the life of this Parliament their traditional high standards and have preserved for history all that has been said here. The Parliamentary Librarian and the staff of the library have provided an invaluable service to all honourable members, meeting all manner of requests courteously and efficiently. The Secretary of the Joint House Department and his staff attend to the basic needs of members-accommodation, food and the like. We greatly appreciate the work of all staff involved in the provision of these services on which we all rely so much for both our well-being and our comfort. Of course, last in this respect but by no means least is John May and his team who work out the complexities of transporting members to and from this place. They deserve a special mention and also our unqualified thanks.

Public interest in the proceedings of this House tends to focus on the conflicts and divisions which occasionally take place-that is only natural. Those of us involved in its proceedings know only too well that the conduct of business in the House is based on a considerable degree of co-operation and indulgence on all our parts. For this we must thank the Leader of the House (Mr Young), his counterparts in the Opposition parties, Mr Spender and Mr Sinclair, and our respective party whips and their staffs. Our thanks go to each and every one of them. As we know, they are ably assisted by our Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Mr John Engledow. I wish also to mention the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, which turns decisions of government into legislation. I know that, again, I speak for all honourable members when I convey our thanks to those key behind-the-scenes players.

Finally, we have our ever vigilant friends in the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery, who closely attend all the weighty deliberations of the House. They observe the goings on of honourable members not only on the floor of the House, but in every nook and cranny thereof. They seem to identify, with unerring accuracy, those who are less Trappist-like in their manner. Then, they string it all together and report it all to our ultimate masters, the people of Australia. Of course, we all agree that an informed electorate is the lifeblood of democracy. With perhaps varying degrees of emphasis and direction, our thanks go to the members of the Press Gallery for keeping the circulation going. Again in the same vein, I extend our thanks to the broadcasting team of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Thirty-fifth Parliament will have new challenges to meet, new issues to which to respond, as our country embarks upon the third century of European settlement. Of course, and exceedingly importantly, the Parliament will also move into a new building, which, of itself, will bring its own challenges. It would not be direct of me if I did not say-and I guess that the Leader of the Opposition might put this a little differently in a moment-that I look forward with great confidence to receiving a renewed mandate from the Australian people on 11 July and to leading the Third Hawke Government, a highly competent and talented team, into the next period of our great country's political life.

With the Parliament dissolved, we will all shortly embark upon an election campaign. Finally, therefore, may I say in a true bipartisan spirit that I wish all members of this House well.