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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2392

Motion (by Senator Button) proposed:

That the Senate do now adjourn.


The PRESIDENT —It is with some personal feelings of regret that I inform the Senate of the impending retirement of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, Mr Jim Roberts, who is at the table this evening. Mr Roberts has advised me and the Speaker of his intention to retire from his position on 1 January 1985. I say ' with some personal feelings of regret', because my association with Jim Roberts goes back to the early 1950s when he and I worked together as reporters in New South Wales. I am sure, for instance, that he and I will always remember a time in the 1950s when we both went to Broken Hill to cover a trial. I cannot tell the Senate whether the accused was found guilty or not guilty, but I am sure that we both now plead not guilty and we both reserve our defence! I knew him as a workmate, and I know him as a workmate and also as a senior and responsible parliamentary officer. In both areas he could not be bettered.

As this will be the last occasion on which Jim Roberts will record the many pearls of wisdom uttered by honourable senators-and, I might add, shuffle and convert our words into the readable form as finally appearing in the Senate Hansard-I feel it fitting that I include some appreciative remarks in the Hansard record. Mr Roberts was appointed to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Hansard staff as a reporter in March 1957. After some 20 years of service with the Hansard department in the junior ranks, he was appointed a Leader of Staff in September 1978, Assistant Principal Parliamentary Reporter in September 1979 and, ultimately, Principal Parliamentary Reporter in February 1981.

From my own personal experience, I can assure honourable senators that to become a reporter in the Commonwealth Parliament is a significant and honourable achievement. But to become the head of the Commonwealth Hansard is the highest honour which may be achieved by a member of the profession in Australia. Mr Roberts has seen many changes take place in his 27 years of service with the Australian Parliament. He has seen the development of the Senate committee system with its consequential increased demands placed on the Hansard staff, not to mention the increased demands that are placed on senators and parliamentary staff. He has seen the advent of tape recordings of committees and of the Senate itself between 12.45 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursdays. He has seen the introduction and use of stenotype machines. He has seen the production of Hansard progress from hot metal methods to computerised phototypesetting and now, within his period as Principal Parliamentary Reporter, his Department is wrestling with the technological requirements associated with moving a specialised staff to the new Parliament House in 1988.

I can only say that throughout his time with the Parliament he has performed his duties with distinction and always with the aim of maintaining the high standard and reputation of Hansard. Jim Roberts has served the Senate and the Parliament well. I say with the utmost of sincerity that this quiet, unassuming and efficient servant of the Parliament will be greatly missed. Jim will retire to his interests in gardening, fishing and stamp collecting. He and his wife, Pat, have a son and two daughters, one of whom I might add, Megan, is following in her father's footsteps and has become a reporter in Sydney. On behalf of all senators, I wish Jim and his wife Pat a long, happy and healthy retirement and I thank him for the service he has rendered to the Australian Parliament and the Australian nation.