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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7563

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Leader of the Government in the Senate) (9:33 AM) —by leave—Mr President, on behalf of the government I congratulate both Dr Rosemary Laing on her appointment as Clerk of the Senate and you on the wisdom of your choice. We certainly think it is an excellent appointment. I know it has been done on the basis of merit and I think it will be welcomed broadly by senators. One of the things about this place is that you only ever say nice things about people when they retire or you retire, so it is nice to be able to say something nice about an appointment.

As I say, I think it is a tremendous appointment. We have great respect for Dr Laing and her advice. She has always been a very professional woman of obviously high intellect and has good skills in dealing with often quite desperate senators who want things yesterday, including very complex amendments to government bills. As a former opposition whip and opposition leader, I can say that we relied very much on the clerks because, as the opposition are probably learning, you do not have many resources in opposition and they are a great source of advice and they always do it in a professional manner. I think the clerks in this place reflect the best traditions of Australian public service. Even though we are usually less fond of clerks’ advice when in government, I can say I have always respected the professionalism and the independence that they have shown.

We think it is a great appointment and we offer our congratulations. I note that Dr Laing will be the first woman Clerk of the Senate or Clerk of the House of Representatives, so it is an important appointment that more broadly recognises the role of women in the administration of the parliament. I know particularly that the late Anne Lynch would be very proud. We pass on our congratulations to Dr Rosemary Laing.