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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3086

Mr KEATING (Blaxland) -I would like to add a few words to those already uttered by the party leaders. In particular to my colleagues the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), the honourable member for Lalor, (Dr J. F. Cairns) and to two close friends I have on the Government side, the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) and the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) and to other members, I wish them well in their retirement or in their attempts to come back to Parliament. I particularly want to add something to the careers of and the esteem in which members on this side of the House hold the three retiring Labor members. It has been for me as a young man in Parliament a great privilege to have had the benefit of eight years of the company and companionship of the honourable member for Fremantle, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and the honourable member for Lalor. When you come to Parliament as a young man you always seek to gather experience quickly, but that is something that comes to you over a long period of time and the only way of short-circuiting the system is to take the advice and have the camaraderie of other men. This I have done with the three members I have mentioned and I have listened and learned a great deal from them.

I think the thing that has to be admired in the three of them is that they have maintained their sense of equilibrium and sanity throughout 23 years in opposition in Federal Parliament. It is a sad commentary, I think, on the Westminster system that the talent, commitment and dedication of those three members have been denied to the Australian people because of the vagaries and the structure of this political system in that they had been left languishing for 23 years in opposition before they got an opportunity to display any administrative finesse or to make any commitment to the Australian people. In the bad years of Labor when there was division in the Party and in those many years in Opposition, they managed to stand by their principles and then to take an active part in the Whitlam Administration with a clarity of purpose which I think was obvious to aU observers.

In respect of the honourable member for Fremantle, his commitment to Australian education and the fact that he removed it from the political football field will stand to his everlasting testament. For most of his 23 years in Parliament the honourable member for Melbourne Ports stood where I am standing now, enunciating the principles of Labor on the economic front and his commitment as the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. These years will stand him in good stead. My friend the honourable member for Lalor whose valiant fight against those on the other side of the House m terms of the war in Vietnam and other unpopular issues, also stands in high esteem in the eyes of this nation. These are three men who came to Parliament with principles and I hope that in the years that follow the young men who come- and they aU come as young men- to Canberra do not come here just to take a seat in the Parliament, but to make a contribution based on principles which they have developed over the years and with which they stay. I just hope that they will not go away disillusioned, as these three men could have gone away, when they saw the system that they persisted with for 23 years ripped from underneath them by the actions of the Queen's representative. That did nothing for the standing of Parliament. It did nothing for those on this side of the House who believe in the parliamentary institution, and it was poor testament to three people who maintained their principles when they got the chance which they won at election to administer the poliCies of this nation that it was denied to them.

So I join in saying on behalf of some of the younger men in the Parliament that I have enjoyed their company immensely and the right to have served with them in the Labor Party in the House of Representatives.

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