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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13790

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (13:18): Mr Speaker, on indulgence, I seek to make some remarks about the former Speaker, Harry Jenkins, and also to you. I quote in this parliament the words of Winston Churchill, who once described himself in the following terms:

I am a child of the House of Commons. I was brought up in my father's house to believe in democracy.

Those words could well have been written by anyone about Harry Jenkins. He certainly is a child of his father's house, a very distinguished Speaker in this parliament, and he certainly is a child of this House as well, having served as a very distinguished Speaker in some remarkable days. Harry Jenkins served as Speaker of this parliament when Kevin Rudd delivered the historic apology to the stolen generations. He served as Speaker in this parliament during the days of some of the sharpest contests and most difficult debates that our nation needed to have about its future. He served in this parliament as the parliament's face to the world as we have welcomed leaders from around the world, most recently President Obama and, before President Obama, Her Majesty the Queen. On all occasions Harry Jenkins, as Speaker of this House, has carried out his duty with honour, with dignity, with a strict non-partisan approach which brought him credit from all sides of the parliament.

Perhaps the only flaw in the speakership of Harry Jenkins was identified today by the member for Sturt. I would have taken the advice and thrown the member for Sturt out of the chamber on more occasions! But, with those words of gentle chiding, former Speaker Harry Jenkins has served this parliament well. He is a child of this House. He is someone who learnt a love of democracy in his family home, but he is also a child of the Labor Party. He grew up in a Labor home with Labor values. He has witnessed for those values all of his adult life as he has served his constituents in the seat of Scullin. Harry Jenkins, as the member for Scullin, has decided that it is time to return home, back into the active service of the Labor Party, and we welcome him back into the Labor family in a very warm embrace. We look forward to working alongside him in 2012. He was a great Speaker and is a great Labor Party man and a great friend to all of us on this side of the parliament.

Mr Speaker, the only difficulty you face is stepping into the shoes of a man so distinguished—perhaps I should have joked 'slippers'—but we anticipate that you will as Speaker guide this parliament in the way that you have guided it in the chair as Deputy Speaker. We have seen you, when you have exercised the role of Deputy Speaker, show a fierce sense of balance and appropriateness in this parliament. You have had the courage to take some difficult actions when they have been called upon to maintain order in the House. I am sure that we will continue to see that from you as you step now into the position of Speaker, and from the government side of this parliament we will provide you with the support required as you carry out the duties of Speaker.