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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 48

The PRESIDENT (5:59 PM) —At midnight last night the term of the Hon. Neil Andrew as Speaker of the House of Representatives ceased. I take this opportunity to briefly but warmly acknowledge the contribution to the Australian parliament of Speaker Andrew. Neil Andrew was Speaker from 1996 and, since becoming President in August 2002, I have been privileged to work with a most honourable and decent colleague in the range of matters which relate to the administration of the parliament. Together we oversaw the first major structural reform of parliamentary departments in over 100 years, with the creation of the Department of Parliamentary Services in February this year. I have been very fortunate to serve as a fellow presiding officer with a Speaker who has high standards, who is genuinely respected by all sides of politics and who has a real love of parliamentary democracy.

The most important thing to Neil has been encouraging an understanding of our democracy, and it was a delight to see him with a group of students of any age, whether from Australia or another country, because his enthusiasm for our democratic system is so infectious. It would be wrong for me to say that Neil Andrew has simply retired, because that would imply that he will not continue his busy involvement in public life. I wish Neil and his wife, Carolyn, all the very best for the future. Neil leaves the Australian parliament as a most significant parliamentarian. I am confident that the new Speaker, the Hon. David Hawker, will continue the high standards his immediate predecessor brought to the office, and I warmly congratulate him on his election this morning.