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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3088

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) -I propose to be very brief, but the references that have been made to me have been so gracious that I must acknowledge them. I must say that I looked up apprehensively to see my halo, but I did not discover one there. Haloes have a habit of getting battered in election campaigns; so if I have one it W111 not be battered over the next few weeks. You, Mr Speaker, did yourself less than justice when you said last night that I had administered a father of a hiding to you in an election in which we were opponents. You actually reduced my majority enormously in the election of 1949. Unlike the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), who said that he had his lowest vote when he first came into Parliament and his highest at his last election, I had my highest vote at the second election in which I participated and my lowest vote at the last election, in December 1975. I come to the depressing conclusion that either there are great swings of opinion or I have retired in time because the electorate was beginning to find me out.

Mr Speaker,first of all, I thank you for the grace and impartiality with which you have occupied that chair. It is a very difficult position in our Parliament. It is not so difficult in the House of Commons because of the acceptance of the Speaker there. You have fulfilled the office with great grace. You are beginning to be a Speaker whose words appear in the sayings of the week, and they are very wise sayings. Let me give you one of your predecessors utterances to me. The late Archie Cameron gave me a definition that really deserves a place in every Australian textbook on politiCS. He said to me: 'A referendum, my dear Beazley, is an appeal from those who know or ought to know to those who don't know and can't be bothered finding out'. He told me that that is what I would find over the years about referenda. I am not quite sure that that is what I found. I also thank the Clerk, Mr Pettifer, and his assistants who on many occasions have given me very valuable help. He is one of a procession of Clerks as far as I am concerned. Frank Green was the Clerk when I came here. There was then Mr Tregear, Sir Alan Turner and Mr Parkes, and now Mr Pettifer, all of whom were great forces for my education. Frank Green always used to say either that he was going to ring up His Holiness, which meant that he was going to take VAT 69, or that he was going to pay his respects to the British Royal Family, which meant that he was going for a George IV. I remember these utterances from when I was first elected.

When I was first elected we had a Whip who, when the bells rang, would go out into the lobby on the Government side- we were the Government at that time- and in a stentorian voice roar down the passage: 'Factory whistle. Say those Protestant prayers'. I offer that to the Government Whip (Mr Bourchier). We then were obliged to hurry into the House. Those are memories. If I look at the benches there is a procession in the mist of many members, many of them dead, who really served the Australian people very well. I know that that sounds like a cliche, but they really did. If I look back over my 32 years, I think that the Australian community has got a very high quality of representation. If it has, of course, that is what it deserves.

I think that some things are going wrong with Parliament. I have said that on various occasions. I do not propose to dwell on them now. I hope that all honourable members who are going to the election campaign will be able to battle well and to keep to the real issues. Bernard Shaw once said that an election was a moral horror like a war, only without the bloodshed. I do not think it is necessary for an election to be fought that way. I think that we sometimes become quite childish in this Parliament and think that everything marvellous originated on our side and everything disastrous originated on the other side. I do not think that is true. I have not been in the Parliamentary Labor Party, most of the time, in what might be called one of its lucky periods. The Labor movement has going through it all the tides of conflict that develop in the community. I have tremendous gratitude for all the colleagues I have had, including those with whom I have disagreed. I have tremendous respect for the new younger members. When I saw my colleague, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) on the Four Corners program last weekend, I thought his analytical style was superb. I believe that that method will take him a long way in politics. He was very briefly a Cabinet colleague of mine, before our careers in Cabinet were terminated somewhat abruptly. I say to the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) that, if we did not observe this custom of paying aU these gracious tributes, it was not exactly our choice; it was as a result of the abrupt termination of Parliament

I thank my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labor Party for the confidence that they showed in me. I believe that their numbers will be augmented greatly in this election. I will not go into these controversies. I am now becoming a non.political figure in one sense. I wish them all the very best of luck. To all those who will be in the next Parliament let me say that I hope that it will be a fruitful and creative 31st Parliament. My first Parliament I think was the 17th and my last is the 30th. I can honestly say that in tumult or in comparative calm I have enjoyed them all.

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