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Tuesday, 1 February 1994
Page: 112


Senator McMULLAN (Minister for Trade and Minister for Administrative Services) (11.08 p.m.) —It is not my normal practice, nor that of many other senators who have participated in this debate, to add to what has otherwise been a long adjournment debate and one in which senators are in agreement. There is really almost nothing to add, so I will not speak much in substance.

  I find myself in a position very similar to Senator McKiernan. I was overseas at the time of the diagnosis and death of Rob Jones and was unable to take any of the action I would normally take to give recognition and make a proper response to the family of someone who was close to me and with whom I developed a special friendship and for whom I would like to make my respect and appreciation known. I will take this opportunity of joining with all those others who have so effectively and movingly spoken about Rob. I share the views which each of them has expressed and will not take up time unnecessarily by adding to them.

  When I became Manager of Government Business in the Senate, I was deeply grateful to Senator Ray for giving me this great honour, as senators can all imagine. But it was Rob Jones's experience and calm that enabled me, however inadequately, to survive through those early periods of discharging that obligation as best I could on behalf of the government and the parliament.

  I was also the Manager of Government Business when Rob left because of ill health the first time. I know many others felt the shock that I did when he advised me why he was going. What overwhelmed me was how much more calm about it he was than I was. I was devastated; he seemed entirely at peace with himself about it. I was impressed then by that immense calm and the sincerity with which he conveyed his confidence—in the short term, at least, well placed confidence—that it might well turn out to be okay. I remember the great joy I had when I saw him some time later in the parliament when it was clear that a significant recovery had taken place. He was then back working in the department and subsequently returned to work in the parliament both as PLO and subsequently for Gareth.

  One of the things that Senator Reid and I share in representing Canberra is that we often get to deal with public servants who make a great and unrecognised contribution to their country. Sometimes we get the opportunity to give recognition to those individuals because they are our constituents and we are present at functions that they attend. In the list of those who have served Australia particularly well as public servants—there are many, and Australia is well served by them—Rob Jones will be considered, by all those who worked with him in the various capacities that he discharged but most particularly here in the parliament, as one of the great servants of the parliament, the public and the nation.

  I have nothing to add other than to endorse the remarks of those who have spoken so effectively, and to particularly endorse the view that his family should be very proud of the contribution that he made. They should appreciate that we all share, in a very small way, the enormous loss that they must feel and that the nation has suffered because the capacity he had to contribute has been so tragically cut short.