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Thursday, 27 May 1993
Page: 1607


Senator TIERNEY (12.52 a.m.) —I rise to pay tribute to my departing colleagues, in particular the people I served with on committees. When constituents criticise this place harshly on the basis of what they glimpse in this chamber from the TV or from the gallery, I tell them about the excellent work of the committee system. Firstly, our Shirley, with whom I served on the select committee on community standards, has kept the interests of women and family to the forefront during her career. In her maiden speech she spoke for all Australian women in the home. She said:

It is undeniable that the continuance of a stable society means stable citizens, and stable citizens come from a stable family background.

It is with these principles in mind that Shirley has carried out her work in the Senate. As a newcomer to the Senate in 1991, I joined with Shirley on the community standards committee to carry out a limited inquiry on fantasy phone calls on 0055. A staffer of mine at the time warned me that I would rue the day that I joined such a committee because of its membership and its particular terms of reference. My staffer said that this hearing and committee will just go on and on, and it certainly has.

  It is during this time that I have really come to appreciate Shirley's tenacious qualities. We work very well as a team and have taken part in many fiery hearings. Even the ABC TV cameras turned up to last week's hearing. They probably came because they heard a rumour that the last hearing's Hansard record had been wrapped in clear plastic sealed with an R-rated certificate.

  The valuable work of this committee has broadened in scope, and Shirley has been extremely anxious that when she is no longer a member of this place her very valuable work will continue. Now that Senator Herron and I will be carrying this on, she can be assured that it will.

  Secondly, I turn to Senator Sowada. In 1991 upon hearing that the Australian Democrats had chosen a 28-year-old archaeologist in the Senate to replace Paul McLean, I had mixed feelings. However, through her work in this place Karin has shown that her research experience has given her great insights into the needs of the education sector. Senator Sowada stated in her maiden speech in this place:

If we want to become the clever country, education must not be regarded as a burgeoning budget item, but rather as an investment in our country's future, in our young people and in the intellectual and scientific base of business.

This statement is very true and Karin can be proud of the fact that she has worked constantly to see this attitude accepted in the Senate.

  Karin has worked tirelessly on many issues on the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training. In the last two years our committee has produced a number of landmark reports including Come in Cinderella on adult and community education and Wanted: our future on youth unemployment. I would particularly commend her work on the education committee since the election.   Despite the fact that she will not be continuing past June, she has worked to ensure that the committee is well placed going into the winter recess with its very important mission.

  I refer particularly to the establishment of the committee's latest inquiry into the future of universities and the research program. Karin is working on this right up to the last minute. She lobbied very hard for university research to be the next reference and was very keen to see that the terms of reference were expressed correctly—a real professional.

  Finally, I also worked closely on committee work with Senator Terry Aulich, who was the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training. Together with Senator Sowada, we made a great tri-party team. In fact, the committee was able to be very effective in producing a number of highly influential reports and this occurred in no small measure because of the chairmanship skills of Terry Aulich.

  Terry is a true believer in education and this has been reflected through his dedication to the work of the committee. His previous profession as a teacher and six years as the Minister for Education in Tasmania has meant that he has always been aware of the issues involved. But you could not ever call Terry a government man.  His report, New directions in higher education, was a landmark in its field, pointing out very clearly the deficiencies of the mess created by Mr Dawkins's national unified system—a disastrous experiment in higher education that we have been inflicted with over the last seven years. The measure of the success of the Aulich report was the way in which Minister Dawkins beat him severely about the head in the media after its release.

  Terry will now go off into the world of literature to continue his work as a writer. His memoirs should make interesting reading after so many years in the world of politics.  At a luncheon today in his honour, SSCEET members, past and present, gathered to pay tribute to Senator Aulich's work. The most fitting of these tributes came from the SSCEET secretary, Brenton Holmes, in the form of a poem:

When straws are drawn in politics

There's some that draws them short.

You end up down the ticket

and not quite where you ought.

Cause preselection battles are perverse and mean and

tough.

That dreaded quiet word in your ear:

"I'm sorry mate. . . you're stuffed.

And so it's on to better things,

A life that's more your own.

More sleep at nights, no caucus fights,

more time to spend at home.

And when you've finally said farewell

and departed from the fray,

You can bet your bottom dollar

that you'll hear your colleagues say:

"He shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.

Oppositions shall not weary him, nor his peers condemn.

At the end of Estimates sittings,

and in the mornings

We will envy him.