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Thursday, 27 June 1996
Page: 2511

Senator SHORT (Assistant Treasurer) —I would also like to say farewell to those of you who are leaving the Senate on this occasion. A fair chunk of them are leaving; to have 10 senators out of 76 leave is a pretty high proportion. It just shows how much less than immortal we all are in terms of the total scheme of life politically and otherwise.

Mr President, I wish you well in the future. I thank you for your period in the presidency. There have been differences of view between you and those perhaps on both sides of the house from time to time, but I know that you have endeavoured to carry out your duties to the best of your endeavour. I think the thing that we would all say of you is that you have, through all of that, been very much a gentleman in the way that you have conducted yourself. To me, that is one of the most important characteristics of a person, so I do very much wish you well.

Noel Crichton-Browne and Bryant Burns are probably the two retiring members that I have had least contact with over the years. I wish them both well in their futures, whichever directions they may head.

To Tom Wheelwright: I have to apologise to you, Tom; I actually confused you with Ted one day.

Senator Wheelwright —Very different.

Senator SHORT —That was something that probably warranted a personal explanation on your part. I note that you did not do it—I am half joking there. But I think that the Senate is going to miss you, and certainly the opposition is going to miss you. With all due respect to your friends and mine on your side of the parliament, you are much more economically literate, I would have to say, than most of your colleagues. I have enjoyed the questions that you have put to me. I think I did finish up having the honour of having the last question from you directed to me. I wish you all the best. I think you have made a real contribution here and I hope the future bodes well for you.

To Robert Bell: I have not had as much to do with Robert as have many of you. Through the little contact that I have had with Robert Bell, I totally endorse the remarks of those who have already spoken about you tonight, Robert. You are a very straight shooter. You are a good guy. You have made a big contribution here and we are very sorry to see you leave. There are two reasons for this: firstly, you are a good guy; secondly, perhaps, because of your replacement. You have made a real contribution to the Senate, certainly from the point of view of the Democrats. You had an ability to relate to all of us and we have felt that we could talk to you on a rational and sensible basis, and this has been very important. I hope things go well for you, and I am sorry that you are leaving.

I want to say a few things to your other departing Democrat colleague, Sid Spindler. I am sorry that Sid is not here, but I would have to say that he stuck it out pretty well tonight. Sid is a fellow Victorian and we have known each other for quite a few years now. To those of you who are not Victorians, I have to tell you that Sid and I have attended about 10,000 ethnic community functions together. We have seen a great deal of each other. Sid is a very fine man. He has made a very important contribution and I am sorry that he is going. I do wish him well in the future.

The one thing I would say about Sid is that he and the Australian Democrats have had an office for the last few years almost directly opposite my electorate office in Collingwood. He has been on the other side of Smith Street: he is on the Fitzroy side and I am on the Collingwood side. We have been only about 50 meters apart. It has taken a long time, but I think that I can now say with confidence that, in the last month, they have decided to move—this has nothing to do with Sid. He has been a very good Victorian colleague and I wish him well in his retirement.

Christabel Chamarette and I have spent a fair amount of time together, particularly on the immigration committee. We have had many differences of view on many issues. The one thing that I would say about Christabel without any hesitation at all is that she is a person with a great deal of compassion and feeling: she really does care about her fellow human beings. We have different views as to how best to serve the future needs of our community. She has been a very staunch advocate in her approach. We will miss her and I wish her well in whatever lies ahead.

Gerry Jones, we are going to miss you. As someone earlier mentioned—and I have probably never said it to you—I have always felt great pleasure in getting a Christmas card from you and Rita. But it is more than that. There is a warmth about Gerry and the way that he has gone about his task here. Your civility at all times has been very much appreciated on this side of the Senate. It has been a pleasure and a privilege working with you in our different ways for so many years. I wish all the very best to you and your family in your retirement, whatever it may bring. People say that they are going to retire when they leave the Senate; I think this is a misnomer. I am sure you will be very active in whatever you do.

To my two Liberal party colleagues, Baden-Teague and Michael Baume: Baden came into the Senate a couple of years after I first came into politics in 1977. One thing that has annoyed me increasingly over recent years is that car drivers call me Senator Teague. I say, `No; I am Senator Short' and they say, `Gee, you look so alike.' I say, `Gee, do I really; he is far more handsome than I am.' Baden, you have made a terrific contribution to parliament in a whole variety of ways. Others have said many of the things that I want to say. You have really made a very significant contribution.

We have probably come from different parts of the spectrum of liberalism but, as you have made the point yourself, the Liberal Party is a very broad church. The great virtue of that Liberal Party is that it is such a broad church that it can accommodate such a range of views. Many of the views that you have espoused I have very much agreed with, and I hope that some of those that I have espoused you would agree with as well.

So I wish you and your family all the best in the future. You are about to become an author, I hear, of this, that and the other. We have probably all got our fingers and toes crossed and are wondering what is going to emanate out of all of that. I am sure it will be a bright and happy future for you and a very satisfying one. I thank you very much, as a colleague, for your contribution.

My final remarks have been very deliberately reserved for the curly one, my friend Michael Baume, who came into the parliament on the same day that I did in 1975. Senator Chapman, who is here tonight, was another one. We came in together into the House of Representatives in 1975 as the 43 so-called `oncers'. None of us were oncers, although we had to have a second time round at some stage. All three of us went through more than one parliament in the House of Representatives.

I have known Michael for a long time now. I would have to say that I do not think that I know of any politician who has been more vilified by the opposition than Michael Baume has, absolutely and totally wrongly vilified, and I have never seen a person who has stood up to vilification and attack over such a sustained period as you have, Michael. You are a man of great courage and character and we have benefited greatly from your presence. We have also benefited greatly from your friendship.

When I say `benefited' let me say that I have suffered greatly from your ability on the tennis court to be able to pop a ball over the net and make it almost spin back the other side, but I mean benefit in a whole variety of ways. We have been friends for a long time, we have been good colleagues and you have earned the respect of all of us. We will miss you very much indeed and we wish you all the best. We will not try to deluge you too much with visits to New York, but I have to say to you that you are probably going to get a fairly frequent stream of visitors—

Senator Michael Baume —I will look forward to it.

Senator SHORT —and we are going to look forward to that as well.

The Senate is a very special place and we are all very privileged to be members of this chamber and of the Australian parliament. To all of you who are leaving I thank you very much for your contribution and your companionship and your friendship in so many ways. I know that I join all my other colleagues who have spoken tonight, and others who have not had the chance of speaking, in wishing you all the very best for the future.