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Tuesday, 1 February 1994
Page: 10

Senator RICHARDSON (Minister for Health) —Mr President, it is a pleasure to address you by that title. You have run the gauntlet in our party room, as so many have done before you, and to have done so successfully, for a job such as yours, is an achievement. I wish you well and I hope you will look upon me kindly on the occasions that I get excited and that you will overlook my occasional display of exuberance.

  I did not know Senator Archer well. From my time as a minister for the environment and from other things I know that he has pursued an interest in the Antarctic and in science over the years. One can certainly say of him something that cannot be said of too many of us in this place—in him, there was an absence of malice. I wish him well.

  I mainly wish to say something about Kerry Sibraa, who has served in this place for so long—indeed, since 1975. It should be said of Kerry that his career has actually been of great benefit to me. Every time he moved up he created a spot that I could move into. That was a great advantage. Honourable senators should know that I would not be here were it not for the fact that in 1971 I received a call from Kerry Sibraa, offering me a job in the ALP office as an organiser.

Senator Collins —He is responsible!

Senator RICHARDSON —He is responsible for it all. I have not forgotten that moment and I wish him well. I have known Kerry over the course of 25 years. In fact, I remember him when he was not thin. In 1975 when John Ducker was unable to attend the national executive, Kerry Sibraa was the one delegate who did not vote against Brian Harradine. That was a matter of courage, but New South Wales has often stood out against the rest and will continue to do so, stoically and in observance of our traditions.

  I was asked by Senator Faulkner and Senator Childs to extend to Senator Sibraa the good wishes of the combined branches and unions steering committee. I was asked to say that they will continue to give him the same support over the next few years that they have given in the past—so good luck!

  Having watched Kerry as an official of the Labor Party, through a thousand meetings in a hundred cities and a million towns, he has been a great son of the Labor Party. Not too many have achieved all that he has achieved or have made as many friends as he has made—and there have been many. He was to the fore in many campaigns and we will all remember that. We will remember his humour and I, for one, will remember his friendship and his loyalty. In conclusion, I am proud to say to him that he was my mate and that he will remain so for a long time to come.