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Thursday, 27 June 1996
Page: 2502

Senator CALVERT —I say a few words as a senior backbencher. I have always been a backbencher; in fact, I have been a backbencher for nine years. Very briefly, I will say a few words about my colleagues. This is the best club in the world. You have to be elected here by the people of Australia, and it is an honour to serve. I feel rather sad to see some of my mates going. I will just run through a few of them.

You would never have thought that I would say some kind words about Bryant Burns, but Bryant and I were good mates on the animal welfare committee and the rural and regional affairs committee. I always respected his views about agriculture. The fact that he used to break in horses in his younger days really impressed me. Bryant, I really enjoyed my time with you and I wish you all the best in your retirement and my best regards to Nanette, as well.

To Noel Crichton-Browne: perhaps the best years are behind us, but I respect Noel's views and I wish him well in his future.

To Gerry Jones: I am still very proud to be able to send you a Christmas card. You are a real gentleman and the best chairman we have ever had—I know I can say this without any problems, because Senator Panizza is not here—of the Selection of Bills Committee. You are a real gentleman, Gerry. I have always respected you, and I hope the best happens for you.

To Sid Spindler: I really have not had a lot to do with you but I have always respected your views. As a Democrat, of course, we were opposed on most things but I was pleased to hear what you have had to say, and I wish you the best.

My friend Baden Teague: I do not know what is going to happen to the tennis competitions anymore. When Baden was in charge of the—

Senator Teague —The Reps games?

Senator CALVERT —No, the games between us and the different agencies and embassies around the place. Once upon a time, we used to have wonderful competitions where we took on all the embassies. We always got beaten, but it did not matter because it was great for public relations and international relations. I am afraid that has all gone. But I am sure somebody will bob up along the way.

To the President, Michael Beahan: I have not always agreed with his decisions but, I tell you what, you would not meet a better gentleman than Michael Beahan. The thing I like about Michael Beahan is he likes Tasmania. I have always been very proud and pleased to know that, when he comes to Tasmania, sometimes he comes to see me.

Christabel Chamarette: a very gentle person with strong ideas and probably a great loss to the Senate. The Senate is a place where you have different views and we are all elected by proportional representation. Christabel put forward a particular point of view that probably did not always agree with the mainstream of politics—with the major parties on either side of politics. But Christabel did it in a very honourable and special way. I must say that, as a Temporary Chairman of Committees, I always respected the way she put her views.

Tom Wheelwright was here one minute and gone the next. I think he may have been a great politician if he had had the chance to hang around, because Tom had a very good economic background. That leads me to two other people—and I will first of all deal with Robert Bell. Robert Bell is not in my party, but I have to say that he is a true Tasmanian and I will always remember him for that. He stood up for the rights of Tasmania and he pushed those views very hard.

Apart from the fact that he used to grow very good radishes and his sister has married a very good friend of mine who is in radio down there, Robert Bell, in my opinion, would have been far more advantageous to Tasmania and to this Senate than the person who is going to replace him. I mean that, Robert. Whilst in the last few weeks we have seen a succession of motions put by the government that the Democrats have not agreed with, at the end of the day at least you would have understood the rationale of what we were trying to do. I have always respected the fact that you have always stood up for Tasmania in the way that you have. I really am sorry to see you go, mate; I really am. And I am sorry that we will not be able to get any more of the radishes you grow in your backyard.

That leads me to the last person I had to speak about—my old friend Michael Baume. I will not spend much time on Michael. He is a character. He is a person I first met in Hobart—and I will not mention under what circumstances. I was not a member of parliament in those days, but I have always admired him. I always admired, in those days, his expertise in wine and, since then, I have admired his expertise in everything else that goes. He is a great raconteur.

He was my next door neighbour in this place for a long, long time. Everything I ever did I used to run past him. You would go in and he was a bloke who would have a pile of books, with a few odd socks and sandwiches and bananas underneath them. You would pull over a file and find a sandwich that was about three weeks old sitting there. He is a great beaver, worker and worrier for the Liberal Party cause.

I tell you what—Michael Baume could not go out on a higher note than he is going out on now, because everything he has ever aimed for has happened. Michael, you have achieved everything you wanted to achieve in spades. I am very proud and very pleased to see what you are doing. And I am going to miss you, because I do not think there is anybody around this place who is ever going to listen to my weak jokes again. Good luck.