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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 4014

Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(4.26) —On behalf of the Australian Democrats, I endorse the comments of Senators Button, Chaney and Scott and thank everybody associated with this place for the assistance that they have given us. It has been a pretty rugged year. I said to my wife the other day: 'Hasn't the year gone quickly'. She said 'Good heavens, how can you say that because we had an election in March'. All of a sudden, I was stunned to think that it was this year that we had the election and that a new government was elected. That seems an enternity ago to us.

The Australian Democrats hold the balance of power in this chamber and that has made life very difficult for us. We are occasionally accused by the Liberal Party of being an extension of the Australian Labor Party. In turn, we are accused by the Labor Party of being an extension of the Liberal Party. It just pleases me that the number of accusations from each of these quarters seems to be the same.

If I can single out one group in particular I single out the Clerk and everybody in the Department of the Senate, who do an extraordinary job. I know that you, Mr President, are very proud, as you should be, to have such people on your staff. I make the point that 169 Bills have been presented by the Government since March of which only four have been rejected. This means that 98 per cent of the Government's legislative program has been passed without impairment. In addition to that, we have moved over 70 amendments to Bills. We received assistance in respect of every one of those amendments from your Clerks .

That assistance has been provided always in a willing, courteous and extremely efficient manner. In addition, we received assistance in respect of the dozen or so private members' Bills that we introduced. I thank them especially. I take this opportunity on behalf of the Democrats of wishing all honourable senators and their loved ones a happy and holy Christmas.