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Thursday, 9 December 1976

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) (Prime Minister) - Mr Speaker,I am sure that all members of the House will want to join in the remarks that you have made of the good wishes and thanks that are expressed to the Clerk of the

House. Norman James Parkes has had a very long and distinguished record of service to this Parliament and through this Parliament to the people of Australia. He has come, as you Mr Speaker have indicated, from a family which has traditionally served this Parliament and the people of Australia from the beginning of Federation in 1901. There must be few families with such a long and distinguished record as that.

In his time the Clerk will obviously have seen many changes. He has seen attempts to modernise the mechanisms and procedures of this House. Although he has watched and to a great extent been involved in this process he also has made sure that the essential requirements of the procedures of a House of Parliament have been adequately maintained. He has made sure that where change had been introduced it has been constructive and useful change and not merely change for changes sake, not merely getting rid of old traditions for the sake of getting rid of old traditions.

I hope that I can say, without being offensive to you, Mr Speaker, that, if my recollection is correct, Norman James Parkes, amongst his other services to this Parliament, has broken in- if that is not too improper a term- 4 Speakers, although I think that one of those Speakers may have held that position when Norman Parkes became Clerk. In that case that Speaker would have served his term during the office of 2 Clerks. The Speakers under whom he has served were Speaker Aston, Speaker Cope, Speaker Scholes and you, Mr Speaker. But clearly in the initial stages of occupancy of the office of Speaker- and' I do not think this would detract in any sense from the authority, status and respect that one has for the office of Speaker-the advice of the Clerk is obviously of significance and importance. Precedents in the management of this House are important to the proper conduct of business. I think that whether we are Ministers, Prime Ministers or Speakers, good advice from official advisers is always of great importance. The Speakers of this Parliament, and through them the Parliament, have been well served by the official advisers, by the Clerk and by the Clerk's assistants.

Norman James Parkes, I think we all owe you our thanks. We all wish you and your wife the greatest of good health and happiness in your retirement. On behalf of the Government Parties I thank you very much for what you have done for this Parliament to maintain and uphold the honour and dignity of this place. When this place has been let down, it has not been the Clerks who have let it down; it is sometimes members who have not always behaved as they ought. We thank you for what you have done. We thank you for the example you have set. We wish you well in whatever you seek to do.

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