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Thursday, 9 December 1976

Mr SPEAKER -I wish to inform honourable members that Mr Norman Parkes, the Clerk of the House, will retire on 3 1 December. Today is his last day at the table after 42 years of service. His has been a notable career. In 1934 he was appointed to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff as accountant. In 1 937 he came to the House of Representatives as an accounts clerk and reading clerk. Over the years he worked his way through every section of the Department of the House of Representatives. He became a chamber officer in 1949 when he was appointed Serjeant-at-Arms. In this role, with the Usher of the Black Rod, he escorted the Queen to open the Third Session of the Twentieth Parliament on 15 February 1954. This was the first time that a ruling sovereign had opened the Parliament or indeed had visited Australia. He became Third Clerk Assistant in 1954 and Clerk Assistant in 1959. He was admitted to the Order of the British Empire in 1961. In 1964 he became Deputy Clerk and, on 11 December 1971, he became Clerk of the House. He has served under 4 Speakers, each of whom will attest to his capacity, service and friendship.

As Honourary Secretary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, he has participated in many important Commonwealth Parliamentary Association activities, including attendance at conferences in Nigeria, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He was a member of the steering committee for the First, Second and Third Australasian Parliamentary Seminars which are an important Commonwealth Branch initiative in this region. This year with me he attended the Fourth Commonwealth Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks in London.

The office of Clerk is an ancient traditional office. I quote from Phillip Marsden:

The long unbroken lineage of the Clerks of the House is more ancient even than that of Speaker, reaching back as it does to 1363.

On 3 1 December there will come to a close the reign of the ninth Clerk of the House since Federation. He follows in the path of his father, Ernest William Parkes, who was the fifth Clerk of the House during the years 1927 to 1937. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is only one previously recorded instance of a son holding the same office as his father in this area. This was not in this Parliament but in the House of Commons.

Mr Parkesas a child remembers the Prince of Wales coming to the Parliament. This is one of his first recollections of his association with the Parliament when his father was the Clerk. During his service he has served, I think, 9 Speakers. Fourteen Prime Ministers have sat at the table during his period of service. He has witnessed 16 elections. I think there is not a member of the House who has been directly concerned with that number of elections. He has seen the Parliament assemble in our tradition after each election without a Speaker in the Chair with the Clerk sitting at the table to conduct the election of Speaker with absolutely no power whatsoever to discipline unruly members.

Earlier this year the Clerk was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. This was an acknowledgment of his great contribution to this Parliament. In earlier days Norman Parkes was a keen cricketer. He is now one of Canberra's leading bowlers, although he modestly denies that. He will have greater propensity for that past time as from 1 January. He was given a mobile typewriter by the Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association last week.

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -Was it last Tuesday night?

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman will remain silent. He was given a typewriter by the CPA Executive at a dinner given to him as a departure gift. Most of us will wish that he use it to record the ever-changing scene of Parliament as he has observed it over the years. Those who do not wish it to be recorded, at least in relation to themselves, should give the Clerk notice of that fact.

Maida, Mr Parkes' wife, has been a friend and companion to Norman during his long career. All members of the House wish them a most enjoyable, peaceful and entertaining retirement. Whatever may be said of his career, one could never say of it that it lacked interest. They take with them, and they deserve, our good wishes and our thanks. To a friend, I say: Thank you, Norman; well done.

Honourable members Hear, hear!

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