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Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2668

Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)(2.26 p.m.) —On behalf of opposition senators, I wish to congratulate you, Madam President, upon your election as President. I think today is an historic day for the parliament, in particular for the Senate with your election as its first woman President. You have already made history of course as the first woman Deputy President in this chamber. We in the Labor Party do congratulate you on what we believe is a groundbreaking achievement in that regard. We are delighted to see you in the chair. We acknowledge that your election is in accordance with the principle that the party of government should hold the presidency of the Senate.

I want to say also that I do look forward to working with you with the close working relationship that we established, I think, many years ago when both of us held whips responsibilities in this chamber. I know that you know your way well around this place: you have a very good knowledge not only of the formal standing orders and procedures of this place but also of the way it works informally. Of course there is a need for any President to have a very good understanding of that because you do preside in the chamber where no one party has a majority. But I am very confident that you will be treating all sides with fairness and without prejudice, no matter what the circumstances or what the issue that you face.

I think that at times you are going to find the remainder of the parliament difficult and trying—it inevitably is in politics—but I am very confident, as are my colleagues, that you will be equal to that task, as you have proved to be in the other offices that you have held in this place.

I also acknowledge that not only do you have responsibilities in this chamber but also significant administrative responsibilities with the Speaker of the House of Representatives. We expect that you, in conjunction with the Speaker of the House, will fulfil those responsibilities with impartiality and with fairness. I can assure you on behalf of the opposition that Labor senators in this chamber look forward to a productive and cooperative relationship with you. I assure you, as you commence your role as President of the Senate, that you have our confidence and, on behalf of all members of the opposition, I heartily congratulate you on your election.