Senator FIFIELD (Victoria-Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (18:05):
I would like to observe the American convention and refer to ‘President Ferguson’. Alan, you have been a mentor and a friend. Your counsel has been the wisest that I have received in this place; my only regret is the occasions on which I did not follow it. You were an outstanding president and you have been a truly grand parliamentarian.
Julian, your Senate career has indeed had an operatic quality. You were in the Senate, you were out of the Senate for a brief time and now you are back in. You have been a National and you have been a Liberal. Indeed, I was proud to stand with you after you decided to join the Liberal Party. I know there were some who urged that the Liberal Party not accept you and leave you as an independent in this place. But accepting Julian was one of the best decisions the Liberal Party organisation in Victoria has taken. You are immensely popular. You have worked incredibly hard. You have the affection of the Victorian Party organisation. You are the ultimate ‘conviction politician’. You come from a great political family; your brother, Peter, and your father, John, also supported the coalition parties strongly. I am just delighted that you are going to make a continued contribution to the community as
a teacher. I think that is wonderful.
Senator Minchin, you truly are a creature of the party: you have always put the interests of the party ahead of your own. That was never more clearly on display than in the times that we refer to on this side of the chamber as ‘the troubles’. Contrary to popular belief, there was no ‘Minchin’s militia’; there were just individuals who reached common conclusions. Nick was, as always, his own man. He did put it all on the line. Nick, I hold you in the highest regard. It is very much my hope that your formal service to the party we will see again in some other incarnation.