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Tuesday, 1 February 1994
Page: 113


Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services) (11.13 p.m.) —I too want to add my words to everybody else's contributions here tonight. Unlike most of the people who have already spoken, I did not have the opportunity to work so immediately closely with Rob. Perhaps it is interesting that I, who did not work immediately with him in terms of management of government business and so on, also had the same experience of knowing this very singular, very special and very wonderful man. I think one of Rob's remarkable qualities that come across to me tonight, from hearing others speak in very much the way I feel about him, was his capacity to make each of us feel singular and special. To pass by Rob and to smile or exchange words was a lifting occasion for the day and it made people feel something special about themselves, which was an extraordinary capacity that this man had.

  Senator Harradine talked of what it says about all the rest of us, let alone most of the people who work around here, that this man's personality so shone. Is it that perhaps we should make a New Year's resolution to try to pick up on some of Rob's qualities? I suspect that is beyond the capacities of all of us and it is also, I suppose, to reiterate the singular qualities of Rob.

  I add to the record one small example of a singular experience that I had in talking with Rob. Like Senator Patterson, I have been trained to recognise disease or something away from the normal and perhaps I also have a capacity to talk to people about it. In talking with Rob on one occasion very early on I discovered that he was like me, the parent of three sons—a category that I think is a very good measure of something; certainly it was a common point that we had.

  In talking about what our sons were up to, I mentioned that, at that stage, my sons were educating me in chaos mathematics. Rob said, `Oh, yes'. We proceeded to engage in a conversation about chaos mathematics. He took it further and said that he would send me some papers about philosophy and chaos. He did so; I have that permanent record of Rob Jones.

  I wanted to share that with the Senate. I can think of no better description of the skills one would need to cope with managing government business in this place than to be a master of chaos and a philosopher to wit. I add my words of sympathy to all those given to Rob's family.