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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3092

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -I rise only because, with the departure of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), I am the longest serving member of the Opposition. I have served with three of the four retiring Labor members during the whole of the period that I have been in the Parliament and for most of the period that they have been here. Mr Beazley - I hope I Will be permitted to break the Standing Orders to call him by name- is without doubt one of the most able debaters this Parliament has ever seen. He has an analytical mind. We will miss him. He will go down in the annals of the parliamentary records as being one of the parliament's greatest debaters. The same comment can be made of Dr Cairns who was also a great debater with an analytical mind. I wish him and Mr Beazley a happy retirement.

In my view, Mr Crean was the best qualified Treasurer and the best Treasurer this country has seen over the past generation. He was a magnificent Treasurer. He was too much of a I think, for the people with whom he was dealing. He should have been tougher but it was not in his nature to be as tough as he should have been on the type of people with whom he was dealing. He was too much of a gentleman for that. I will always remember him as a great elder of the church of which I am a member. He has been a great companion of mine. I wish him a happy retirement. I know he will relish the opportunity of spending more time with his wife, Mary, than it has been possible for him to do in the past.

I come now to you, Mr Speaker. Of aU the people who trampled on the Standing Orders when they were in opposition, I know no one who erred as often and with such relish as you seemed to do. When you were Leader of the Opposition it did not seem to occur to you that you had to get the call before you could rise and start talking. I thought you knew no different. I took pity on you. I felt sorry for you. I thought: 'He is a nice chap. He is a lawyer. He is a Q.C. He is very clever in aU things except the Standing Orders'. I thought you had a sort of mental blockage with regard to the Standing Orders, until you became Speaker when I found that you were most meticulous in pointing out to members that they had no right to rise and start talking; they had to wait until they got the call. You seemed to hold it against me for the best part of the last two years that I was the one who constantly drew Speaker Cope's attention to your shortcomings. I did not think you had noticed it at the time but after your appointment I was sure you had noticed it and were determined to make me pay for it. In recent months, I am pleased to say, you seem to have forgiven me. I now get the call occasionally at Question Time; not very often.

In my view, you have proven to be one of the very best Speakers under whom I have served. You have an extraordinary quality about you as Speaker. I have not seen it in anyone else. You know when to be firm. You can be firm without standing and shouting your head off. You can be firm in a voice that is barely audible. You look firm. I think I would look as firm if I had that wig. You are able to defuse periods of great tension. I pay you a very sincere compliment. I have told you this privately, but failed to produce the results for which I was hoping. Now that it cannot be said that I am looking for further favours from you, I say it to you publicly: You are a very great Speaker.

I shall be very sorry to see the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) leave. I hope he is elected to the Senate. The Senate deserves him. We have had to put up with him for 28 years and I think it is only proper that the Senate should have its stint now and have him for six or 12 years. To the electors of New South Wales, to those who are to the extreme Right, to those Liberals who have some doubt about where the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) stands, as to whether he might be veering deep down in his heart towards socialism, let me say this: If they want to be absolutely certain of having a senator who will never show the slightest sign of weakness towards the Left or even towards the centre, or even to those who are bad enough to be just right of centre, they can do no better than to vote for the honourable member for Mackellar for the Senate because he will never betray them. He will never betray their most conservative wishes, thoughts and aspirations. He will always be there slogging it out for them, saying all the things that they would like to say in the Melbourne Club, Tattersall's Club and the other places where their ilk meet.

I regret that time and the Standing Orders have not permitted me to point out to the new members, who unfortunately will not be present to hear it in the next Parliament, something about the escapades for which the honourable member for Mackellar is so famous. I refer to the blowing up of the Cronulla Bridge, the capture and holding incommunicado in the Blue Mountains of Sir Thomas Blamey, the presenting of the Illawarra Mercury cup to that dangerous communist Roche, and the way in which he took possession of the Redfern police station by dressing up all his members of the home guard as trammies just as the tramway people were changing their shifts, and instead of taking over the trams he took over the police station to make the point that Australia was in a defenceless state, that was not in a position to defend itself. I think that other members have missed something by not having heard me give what until now has been a ritualistic kind of diatribe, as he called it, to let members know what a magnificent man we have with us. The greatest of all W. C. Wentworths is about to depart this Parliament. I am sorry for that.

I am sorry for the others who are leaving. Altogether 13 members of this Parliament know that they will not be back because they are retiring voluntarily or involuntarily, but they are retiring for certain. Many more will retire involuntarily. We do not know how many. I have made a calculation and I know that there will be at least 24 fewer members on the other side and that there will be 24 new members on this side. The thing about which I am saddened is that out of 27 Federal Ministers in 1975 only 10 remain. Since I became a member of this Parliament I think more than 500 members and senators have come and gone. I think it is very sad to see so many bright young men from the government back benches opposite who have been condemned to sit there for these two years knowing that they could never make it- people who have been unable or unwilling to crawl their way into the Prime Minister's favour so that they could serve in the Cabinet. I mention only some of them: The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil), the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly), the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock), the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Baillieu), the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Sainsbury), the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards), the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) and the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who, I think, will be defeated in the pre-selection for Wakefield by Bert Kelly. All of these men are men of very great talent. If there had been an election for Cabinet by the democratic means which the Labor Party follows in the selection of Cabinet, most of them would have been in the Cabinet and some of the no-hopers who are front benchers now would be back where they belong.

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