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Thursday, 9 December 1976


Mr SCHOLES (Corio) -As one of those who has had the opportunity of serving as Speaker in the House I pay tribute to Norman Parkes for the work that he has done and for the manner in which he has supervised the parliamentary Department of the House of Representatives. I do not suppose there are many who have to rely on the skill and advice of the clerk more than those who occupy the position of presiding officer. Most members of Parliament know a lot about the Standing Orders and the procedures of this Parliament and of others until actually put to the test by having to put those procedures into rulings or decisions. Then the amount that those concerned do not know becomes a volume. The advice that I, my predecessor and, I presume, Speaker Aston received enabled us to carry out the duties with which we were charged. It is important to any person in any office to be certain that their advice can be relied on. In many other ways- as Clerk, as an individual and as an officer of the Parliament- Mr Parkes has served this country extremely well. It is a frustrating job, in that the Clerk can advise but he cannot prevent the person to whom the advice is given from making mistakes. Mistakes will always be made.

One other side of the Clerk's job on which I want to comment briefly is that in many instances members of Parliament take up with the Clerk grievances which properly should be taken up with the Speaker. If the Speaker makes a ruling from the chair, no matter what advice is given by the Clerk- and no one can know what advice is given- it is the Speaker's ruling and his responsibility. When honourable members take these grievances or supposed grievances up with the Clerk it adds to the pressure and I think it is unfair to the people who serve in that office. If a person accepts the role of Speaker in the House he should also accept the responsibility for his own decisions. I wish Norman Parkes and his wife well in their retirement. I hope that his experiences will not now be forgotten but that he will utilise those experiences in order to inform and to ensure that future generations have the benefit of what has been a very long and distinguished career of service to the Parliament and, as a servant of the Parliament, to the people of Australia.







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