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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2395


Senator REID(11.35) —Mr President, Eddie James retired a few weeks ago after 40 years of service. He was the Chief Telecom Technician in Parliament House, and spent 12 years in valuable service to the Senate, the Joint House Department and members in the House of Representatives. I am sure honourable senators will recall the untiring efforts of Eddie James to keep up with modern technology and to provide it in a practical way to senators and members. He came here at about the time the President's wing was being constructed and provided telecommunications for the then President and later Sir Magnus Cormack. He saw the building of the present Prime Minister's wing and led the installation of the now-switching units for the Prime Minister and his staff and Press office. During the heyday of the NSU technology over 550 NSU units were fitted in Parliament House. He was to the fore in modifications of a technical nature to suit the needs of each Prime Minister, from Sir William McMahon onwards. Cabinet reshuffles after each election and, in fact, between elections meant that massive amounts of energy, time and material had to be expended.

During his career here he always made sure that everything was done on time so as not to cause any disruption to the communications of senators and members, and staff whom Parliament relies on for the smooth running of business. He really built up quite a name for himself with his prowess in the design area. If a system did not suit the needs he would modify it and redesign it so that it would. His work has been most effective and we commend his high standard of excellence. During his time we saw the introduction of the facsimile means of transmissions of documents by phone and the touch-phone. The further advances of technology brought the Commander system and Eddie James initiated its installation within Parliament House.

Not long after I came here, Parliament commenced its winter recess, and when I came into and left the building I frequently heard the paging system being used. I usually heard: 'Paging Eddie James, paging Eddie James'. After a while I inquired as to just who he was, where he fitted into the scheme of things, and the important role that he had to play. I am also told on good authority that even that in most cynical section of Parliament, the rooftop which houses the Press, he was always appreciated. Intercoms and telephone systems could break down in that place and editors and chiefs of staff would be screaming about deadlines and the air would be rent. Eddie James would walk in and calmly say: ' Don't worry, we will fix it'. The fact is that he did fix it in no time at all. He had a quiet, unassuming presence and a calming influence on everybody with whom he came into contact. I would like to wish him well upon his retirement. I also offer best wishes to Mr and Mrs Roberts.