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Friday, 30 October 1970

Mr DALY (Grayndler) - Firstly I wish to tender the apologies of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) for not being present, not only to express their good wishes to officers of the Parliament for their services during the past year, but also for not being here on this important occasion with which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has dealt at some length, that is the departure from the Parliament today into retirement of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr McEwen). The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition are unfortunately engaged on another mission which precluded them from being here.

I wish to join in the sentiments that have been expressed by the Prime Minister to all those who make Parliament work, from the officers here to the Library staff, the dining room staff, the transport officers and all those associated with the Parliament whose activities in many cases go unnoticed but who make it possible for us to carry out our duties here. On behalf of the Opposition I join in the sentiments that the Prime Minister has expressed. The Prime Minister dealt at some length with your impartiality, Mr Speaker. I think you will excuse the Opposition if it says it does not go all the way with him in that respect, but pulls up a little short I remember saying to a former member of this Parliament about a certain Speaker: 'He is not a bad Speaker.' He said: 'No. He has improved out of sight. He has become a little fair lately, too.' I do not say that that applies to you, Mr Speaker, but the Opposition never agrees that the Speaker is completely impartial. But we do extend to you our good wishes.

At this stage, while I cannot on behalf of the Opposition, wish Government supporters success in the Senate election, I will say that we hope they go well hut not well enough. But to all those associated with the election I repeat the Opposition's good wishes. I refer now to the retirement of the Leader of the Country Party. Next to the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who is not here today, I have probably the longest service, with the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), in the Parliament. For twothirds of the time that the Deputy Prime Minister has been in the Parliament I have gazed across the chamber at him, mainly from the wrong side of the Parliament. I have seen him, more than any other member of the Parliament, in Opposition and in Government, and have learnt to respect his capacity and ability. Undoubtedly he has had a long and distinguished period of service in the Australian Parliament. I suppose we could say, in a sentimental way, that with his retirement there passes an era in politics ranging from the middle of the depression years to this year of 1970. That span of years with which he has been associated are amongst the most historic in Australia's history. It must bring back some very fond memories, some bad memories and at the same time a feeling of achievement of having lived through a period of depression and 2 world wars, to an age when man has reached the moon.

Today there goes from the Parliament a figure and a personality whose service is linked with Australian history. We on this side of the Parliament know, more than the Government does, that the Deputy Prime Minister is and always has been a very hard fighter. He has never given much quarter and has never asked for any. I have always liked one thing about him. I think he is uninsultable. Much greater parliamentarians than I ever hope to be have tried him out in that respect and he stood the test of time in the most bitter days. One of the cardinal points in a politician, if he can achieve it - and it is hard to do - is that if he is uninsultable he will have much happier nights when he goes home. With due respect to the Deputy Prime Minister, I do not think he lost many nights sleep over worrying about what he said or did in the Parliament. When I heard him on television a while back saying: 'I am a mild man' and when I heard his speech here a day or so later against the Leader of the Opposition, I thought somebody had got the script mixed up. At the same time, these are things that we have learned to appreciate.

The Country Party will certainly miss him. I would not be so offensive to those who are to follow, as to say that he cannot be replaced. But undoubtedly - I say it in all sincerity - he has served his Party well. To the best of his ability he did what all parliamentarians and members of parties should do: Give of their best for their party. It does not always please everyone, but I think we can say that the Deputy Prime Minister has done that for the Country Party in a very commendable way. Having said so much, may I again associate the Opposition with the tribute paid? I think it is a great thing that, for once in a while, the member concerned is present to hear his valedictory, because too often a member has to be dead before things are said about him that really matter. This is a very desirable change and is more in keeping with the times than if these things are said when the member is not present to hear them.

Finally, I say to the Deputy Prime Minister that as he passes through the doors of Parliament into the shadows of retirement I believe I can say quite sincerely on behalf of all members of the Opposition that our good wishes are extended to him and his good wife for many, many happy years in retirement.

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