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Thursday, 27 May 1993
Page: 1605

Senator MICHAEL BAUME (12.40 a.m.) —I very briefly want to say goodbye to some very good friends and able colleagues on both sides of the House. Florence Bjelke-Petersen and Austin Lewis were not only very effective colleagues but also people for whom I have the very highest personal regard. I do not want to run through everyone like this, because it will obviously take too long. I briefly say to Graham Maguire that, while I will naturally miss his being put up as the token economic explainer of the inexplicable by the Labor Party, I have to admit that I am glad to see him go because I will be moving into his room. It is a very nice room and I thank you, Graham, for vacating it.

  Senator Tate and I have been on what is grandly called the board of governors of the Canberra City Opera. We have combined in a very bipartisan way to try to do what we could for this organisation which has played a very significant role in the artistic life of Canberra. I have a great deal of respect for Senator Tate. I look forward to his hospitality in The Hague at some time in the future.

  Senator Button's highest point in this Parliament was not in fact in this chamber at all. It was when he joined Michael Hodgman and me in the parliamentary debating team that defeated the visiting Oxford University Union debating team some time ago. I prefer to think of him in that context than in any other. Terry Aulich and Pat Giles have been friendly and decent opponents.

  I am put in a fair amount of difficulty in relation to Karin Sowada, because I have been a friend of Karin's family for many years. My sorrow at seeing her departure is, I regret to say, offset by the pleasure in the fact that I led a coalition Senate team in New South Wales that won three Senate seats, which is an improvement from previous years. Karin, I regret that it was at your expense—otherwise it would have been at the President's expense—but I am glad that we won three seats.

  The next points I very briefly want to make are about Peter Durack and Shirley Walters. Peter Durack has failed to admit that the most difficult period he had in this Parliament was, in fact, not as a Minister at all when he had all those tensions, but as a backbencher before he went into the Ministry when he was chairman of the government members national resources committee—was it in 1976, Peter?

Senator Durack —Yes.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —Senator Durack was obliged to chair meetings of a committee full of total, absolute megalomaniacs, of whom I was naturally one. Everyone spoke at once—particularly Bill Wentworth—and Peter Durack had the incredible burden of trying to chair this unmanageable committee. He was rescued from it and sent to the cooler, quieter haven of the Ministry to relieve him of that tension. Peter, I thought you did very well trying to run that committee, and being a Minister must have been a very easy job after that. We have shared many pleasant times together, and I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to go to your farewell dinner in Western Australia.

  I should admit to the chamber that about 15 years ago Senator Shirley Walters and I enjoyed an exciting week together in Paris. I regret to say that I managed to spend only a little time with Shirley. She claims that most of the time I was telephoning press releases through to the Nowra Bugle

Senator Walters —And the Women's Weekly.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —Yes. Shirley is one of the two remaining so-called `oncers' who have been in the Senate since they were elected on our side in 1975. They were referred to, particularly in the other place, as people who would not be here long. It was said, `You're all just oncers'. I think the only `oncer' was Mr Tony Whitlam, and he was a member of the Labor Party. Not one of us was a `oncer'. Shirley's departure means that Brian Archer is the only person elected on our side in that climactic election in 1975 who has consistently served in this chamber. I think Senator Colston and Senator Harradine and three others in the other place were also elected at that time. It could be said that we had some popularity in the vulgar sense of popular, but apparently it was not lasting popularity. We came here to demonstrate that there is a life after political death, and it is in the Senate.

  Shirley, your departure does leave Brian as the last of that group. May I say how much I certainly have enjoyed your charm, your strength, your character and your friendship. I do hope that if you do not want to come back here and see us, you will be happy for us to go down there and see you.

Senator Walters —You bet.