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Wednesday, 8 November 1967

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Prime Minister) - The motion proposed by the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) brings us to the end of the formal business of the session, as I understand the position. I take the opportunity, which is customary at this period in the parliamentary year, to extend good wishes in a number of directions - to yourself, Sir; to honourable members; and to those who have served us so well in the course of the year.

We move into a period of parliamentary recess but none of us can feel that he is moving into a period of political inactivity. Indeed, we have quite an energetic time ahead of us in the ensuing weeks and perhaps even the poll for the Senate will not conclude our activities. I am sure that it will not conclude the activities of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), and I suspect that it will not mean a termination of my own. This has been a shorter parliamentary week than is usual. If any honourable members feel that in some way they have been thwarted or frustrated in their desire to take some continuing part in political activity or in manifesting their political interest I would invite them to listen to me tomorrow night when I shall be outlining the Government's case in the Senate election campaign.

Mr Speaker,whatever controversies may have raged around this chamber and whatever harsh words may have been exchanged in the course of debate between those of us who sit on this side of the House and that section of the Opposition which finds it necessary to keep up an aggressive attack on the Government, there has been no disputation about the manner in which you have discharged your duties. I am sure that every member of the House has appreciated and valued the impartial, dignified, authoritative manner in which you have maintained control of the proceedings of the Parlia-ment. You have the warm good wishes of us all. We thank you for what you have done to ensure that the Parliament maintains the decorum and the efficiency which those who sent us here are entitled to expect of this place.

The Leader of the Opposition, his frontbench members and others who sit behind him have carried out vigorously the role expected of an Opposition. I have never, whether as a member of a government or as a backbench member of a government party, underrated the impact that well presented, honest and factual opposition can make upon the policies of a government and upon administration. I think that members of the Opposition can fairly claim that they have upheld, by their own vigorous courses, the tradition of a democratic Opposition in this place. We have our differences and they are strong differences on many matters, but we maintain for each other a respect as men who have been sent here to carry out as best we can and according to our lights the wishes of those who sent us here to represent them and to interpret what they would have us say in this place.

I extend my thanks for the loyal support given to me not only by my own colleagues of the Ministry and members of my own Party but also by our allies of the Country Party with whom we have been able to maintain such a solid front on matters which have seemed to us to be in the national interest throughout this parliamentary year. You are assisted in your tasks, Mr Speaker, by the Chairman of Committees and his deputies. You all form part of the machinery of parliamentary administration and we have reason to value the service which has been given in these capacities.

As for the Clerk of the House and the other clerks at the table, they maintain remarkable serenity and objectivity amidst the storms that rage around us in this place and the Parliament could not function efficiently without their valuable service. We do in all sincerity thank them for the assistance that they have given to us. Our thanks would be entirely incomplete unless we included the many other members of the parliamentary staffs who serve the National Parliament. I speak of a National Parliament which holds a high place among the democratic parliaments of the world. Those of us who have had contact with parliaments in other places have no reason to be other than proud of the National

Parliament of our own Australian democracy. We are able to maintain these high standards not only by the contribution made by the elected representatives but also through the help that we get from the various parliamentary staffs.

I refer to Hansard, the typing staff, the staff of the Parliamentary Library, even the parliamentary bar which brings solace in times of stress, the Parliamentary Refreshment Room which assists us in satisfying our bodily needs and also the attendants and others in the various parts of Parliament House who make their own contribution to our work. I express good wishes to the gentlemen of the Press and to the ladies of the Press who are occasionally included in their ranks. If Hansard sometimes makes us read rather better than we might have sounded at the time, the Press reporters can be relied on to keep us in a state of balance by making us read rather worse than we thought we sounded at the time. But we have, ali of us, goodwill towards them. They have their part to play in seeing that the democratic system of government functions in the manner that people who support democracy would wish.

Finally, in relation to those who are continuing members of the establishment, I am sure that all of us have reason to be grateful for the assistance given in the ordinary conduct of our business by the hard working Leader of the House and his opposite number, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard). I have had the privilege of serving as Leader of the House. The Leader of the Opposition in his time has had occasion to serve his Party in the capacity in which his Deputy now serves that Party. We know how arduous these duties can be and how they can tax resourcefulness at times in the service of the House. These remarks apply to the Leader of the House respecting the Party that he serves and also to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition concerning the Party that he serves. The House could not get through its business in a way that would minimise inconvenience to members and see that a heavy programme of legislation was carried through in proper fashion unless these members of the Parliament gave to their duties the attention that we find they do give so readily and so ably.

Mr Speaker,you made reference of a personal kind to three people whom we know well and again to whom we all have reason to feel deep appreciation. Perhaps I might be permitted a rather more personal note when I say that while there may have been some doubts in the minds of honourable gentlemen about the qualities of two or more members of this Parliament who are products of my old school - I refer particularly to my predecessor, Sir Robert Menzies, and myself - I am sure that honourable gentlemen will feel that in Harold White and Courtney Key Wesley College has well served the National Parliament and the nation. We extend both to Harold White and to Courtney Key our good wishes and our thanks.

Fred Johnson is familiarly known to us all and is a friend to us all. I gather that each of the three Parties represented here has taken the occasion to express in some tangible form its friendship to him. I was interested to learn that he proposes to apply the recognition given to him by my Party in the acquisition of a television set which will enable him to follow more closely the proceedings of this place to which he has given so much of his service in the past.

We are some distance from Christmas, Mr Speaker, and perhaps until we get the Senate election behind us it will be difficult for us to stir the convivial feelings in our breast that the season would normally call from us. However, I take this opportunity of wishing all honourable members and in particular you, Sir, a very happy time in the Christmas season. Our hopes are that the New Year will be a good year for Australia and will be another good year in the life of this Parliament and its working. Whatever fluctuations may occur in our political fortunes, we are all of us proud to have earned from those who sent us here the privilege of representing them and of making our own contribution as best we can to the working of the Australian democracy and our contribution to the well being and security of our people. We rank it a privilege and I hope that in the service we can give in the forthcoming year the Australian people will feel that they have been well and truly served by the national Parliament.

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