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Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2692

Senator COLSTON(6.03 p.m.) —Madam President, I have not yet had the opportunity of publicly congratulating you on your election to the high office of President of the Senate. I now extend my sincere congratulations to you and, in doing so, have no doubt that you will serve the Senate with great distinction.

I thank those senators who gave me their support in the ballot for the position of Deputy President and Chairman of Committees. It is my intention to perform my duties at all times in such a way that will make it evident that the trust which has been extended to me has not been misplaced.

I accepted Senator Knowles's nomination for a number of reasons. One was that I believe that I can serve the Senate well as Deputy President and Chairman of Committees. Another was that I consider Queensland deserves better non-government representation in positions of significance in this parliament. That situation has now been partially redressed.

No doubt observers, including some honourable senators, will try to analyse the party voting pattern in the secret ballot which has just concluded and question where my loyalties lie in this chamber. My loyalties will not be directed to any particular party or group of parties. Rather, my loyalties will be directed to the Senate and to you, Madam President. I trust that when our association as President and Deputy President eventually comes to an end, my loyalty to the President will be judged to be of the same high standard as it was during the three years when I was deputy to President Sibraa.

In carrying out my chamber duties, I shall aim to be not only fair, impartial and helpful but also firm. I expect that most of us who have been in the Senate for some time would agree that the general tone in this chamber is not as high as it was in the past and courtesy is often a forgotten concept. I will be doing what I can to see that unfortunate trend reversed.

Such a reversal, however, cannot occur simply because this is the aim of the presiding officer and her deputy. It is up to all senators to remember that they are community leaders and to behave accordingly in this chamber. In conclusion, I again thank the Senate for the trust it has extended to me this afternoon.