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Thursday, 27 June 1996
Page: 2455

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate) —I rise to join in the valedictory debate and make a contribution on behalf of my National Party colleagues. Tonight we are farewelling 10 senators. Some are retiring involuntarily and some are retiring voluntarily. The President, Baden Teague, Michael Baume, Gerry Jones, Bryant Burns, Sid Spindler, Robert Bell, Christabel Chamarette, Tom Wheelwright and Noel Crichton-Browne are all leaving us tonight. Some have been here a long time. Baden Teague has been here since 1977 and, at the other end of the spectrum, Senator Wheelwright has only been here for a short time.

I suppose it is a day that we all have to face sooner or later. It would be a day of mixed feelings—sadness, regret, nostalgia and, perhaps, relief—when you walk out of the chamber for last time, as you will tomorrow, and leave this place. I hope you will all leave with happy memories and positive feelings for the Senate. I know that many friendships are forged in this place. While the friendship may not be personal friendship between the different parties, I know that we all get on well together when we are out of this chamber. There are a few exceptions, as the Leader of the Democrats alluded to in her speech.

I extend my best wishes to you, Mr President. In my opinion, you have been a good and fair President. I think that the chamber owes you a vote of thanks. You have been the President for over 2½ years—in good times and rough times. There have been a few rough times. You have kept a cool head. You have tried to keep rulings fair and give both sides of the house a fair go. You entered the Senate in 1987. You were the victim of pre-selection in Western Australia. It seems to happen a lot in Western Australia. It must be something in the water. You have served on numerous committees. You have earned your place as President of the Senate and you can go out with pride. You have done a good job over the last 2½ years. I wish you well in your retirement in the beautiful state of Western Australia.

Senator Michael Baume leaves us tonight. He will be continuing in public office. I am not sure whether his position is official as yet. Whether you agree with Senator Baume or not, you have to admire his absolute tenacity for standing up in here and never taking a backward step. I know that he got under the skin of the Labor Party when in government, but I suppose an effective politician is one who has the tenacity to keep coming back all the time.

If ever there was a tenacious politician, I think Senator Baume has earned that reputation. He was in the lower house from 1975 until 1983 and he came here later on. He has been a great contributor on all matters. As someone else said, he has been up on many reports and has certainly contributed to many debates.

Baden Teague has to be acknowledged as the gentleman of parliament. I don't think I have ever heard Baden Teague say an unkind word to anyone about anyone. That is an unusual attribute in here. Baden, you are a Christian and you practise Christianity in the true sense of the word—you never say anything bad about anyone. I hope that you do not succeed in your endeavours to make Australia a republic and I will be opposing you in every way, but I also admire your commitment to that strategy. I cannot quite understand why you have it. Maybe in the fullness of your retirement you will sit down and explain to me what is good about a republic. I will be prepared to listen.

Senator Teague —I have put in a private member's bill. Read the speech.

Senator BOSWELL —Baden, you have made your contribution to this place. You have been here a long time. I wish you all the best. I think you are going to do a bit of writing and I hope you, your wife and your family enjoy a long and happy retirement.

Gerry Jones, my Queensland colleague, joined the Senate in 1980. He was born in a country town in Queensland and served for one term in the state parliament, where he was an angry young man. He has mellowed into a different person now. He was the state MLA for Everton from 1972 to 1974, when the Labor Party went through one of the most troubled periods in Queensland. I believe he was also the state secretary there for a number of years. Gerry, I have never heard you say a cross word about anyone. You have always had a very cheery disposition and I think you have served this parliament well. It must have been difficult to be the government whip, as Senator Panizza is now finding, and trying to get the legislation through. I think you had a bit more help than we have had lately. Gerry, we wish you all the best.

I would like to make a comment on Senator Kernot's comment that we acknowledge what you have done for your grandchildren. I have always admired you for taking charge in those difficult times. We say to you and your wife: have a long and happy retirement.

Bryant Burns, elected in 1987, born in Rockhampton, is one of those rare commodities in the Labor Party—Senator Lundy is another one—a person who actually used Solvol on their hands, a worker who wears that tag with pride. Senator Burns is a man who has actually picked up a tool. He is a former stockman, boilermaker and unionist; and he was a trade union official of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union.

When Senator Burns came down here, for the first four or five weeks he was very aggressive with everyone, particularly anyone in the National Party. After the first four or five weeks Senator Burns mellowed and he was always very friendly around the parliament. We have travelled on committees together—in fact, we went into the heart of National Party country at one stage, into Kingaroy. I have been on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island committees with him. My notation says, `Quintessential representative of the old style, blue-collar worker and the Labor Party'. Senator Burns, you can wear that tag with pride. You have never forgotten your roots. You have stood up for the working class people and I wish you all the best in your retirement.

Senator Wheelwright: as Senator Hill said, I don't think we should farewell you. I think you are going to be back. Whether it be in this place or the other place, you have got parliament marked all over you. You like it and you will not walk away from it. So it is not goodbye but just goodbye for a short time.

Sid Spindler: Sid, while you live, McEwenism will never die. I would class myself as not an economic rationalist, but I think you go a lot further than I would on the issue. I think you would be 30 years behind McEwenism. Things move on but you are entitled to your opinion. You have pushed that opinion vigorously in the parliament and I know that you go because of ill health. When someone said you had been here six years, I thought I couldn't imagine this place without you. It seems to be indelibly imprinted on my mind that Sid Spindler has been here for a longer time than six years.

Senator Kernot —He is always on the monitor.

Senator BOSWELL —Yes, maybe that is right. I can remember Senator Bell's first speech, where he informed us that his first brush with public life was when he won the radish growing competition at school. I think he thought that made him an expert on primary industries. Rob, you have been a great friend and colleague. You have always given us the support we needed in rural and primary industry debates. Our views vary a bit on some of the social issues, and we disagree on some of the environmental issues.

I have spoken to you since the election and know that you are committed to re-entering this place. It was a hard fight, as the previous speaker mentioned. It was the hardest head-to-head battle between the Greens and the Democrats in Tasmania. It was always going to be a difficult fight for you against such a high profile candidate as Senator-elect Brown, but I expect to see you back some time. We will certainly see you in some parliament, whether it be here or in Tasmania. You have made a contribution to education and many other issues.

For as long as I live, I, too, will remember Senator Chamarette for the Mabo debate. That will always be the height of political debates. I have never seen such twists and turns. As I have said before, it reminded me of a tin of spaghetti. No-one knew where anyone was going for four or five days.

You have an interesting background—born in 1948 in India and a clinical psychologist and community worker. You have been a battler for the underdog and for the Aboriginal community. You leave this place with my best wishes, and I hope you have a happy retirement also.

Noel Crichton-Browne was elected in 1980—about three years before I came here. He was Deputy President and Chairman of Committees from 1993 to 1995. He has held a variety of offices with the Liberal organisation. Noel was always very friendly to me. In fact, at certain times we were neighbours, it being that our offices adjoined. I say to Noel that politics is unkind, it is hard, it is tough. Very few people escape politics without taking a few knocks and without a few scars. It has been a hard two years for you, and I wish you a retirement where you can relax and refocus your life. I wish you all the best.

Mr President, this is a time of mixed feelings. For some it is both a sad time and a happy time. For many people there is sadness that they are leaving their friends in their political party. For some people it will be a relief. But I hope all of the people who are leaving the Senate tomorrow will remember the happy years, the friends they have made, and the victories and losses they have had. Keep those memories with you throughout a long and happy retirement.