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Thursday, 9 December 1976
Page: 3580

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Leader of the Opposition) - I support wholeheartedly but sadly everything that you, Mr Speaker, and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) have said about the Clerk. We are today witnessing the end of three-quarters of a century of service to the House of Representatives, to the Parliament of Australia and the Australian people of the Parkes- father and son. All honourable members know that the off-spring of members of Parliament are very likely to become outstanding parliamentarians. That is clearly shown by the.onourable members for Hunter (Mr James), Parramatta (Mr Ruddock) and Grayndler (Mr Antony Whitlam). The same principle is shown very clearly in the case of the Parkes dynasty. You yourself, Mr Speaker, have happily recalled the occasion when Norman Parkes, as SerjeantatArms, accompanied the Queen when she first opened the Australian Parliament. He is recorded in the painting of that event which hangs in Kings Hall. His father fulfilled the same function when Her Majesty's father, the then Duke of York, opened the first Parliament in Canberra. He too is recorded in the painting commemorating that event, which hangs in Kings Hall.

Norman Parkes' term of 5 years has been one of extraordinary political and constitutional significanceone might think turmoil- affecting this House and the Senate, this Parliament and State parliaments, this Parliament and the Government responsible to the House and the Viceroy. Throughout this period Mr Parkes has never compromised his office or sullied his reputation. When he has spoken or written as the Clerk of the Australian House of Representatives, whether in the House or outside it he has done so with the most complete sense of propriety and duty. He has been a man of experience, distinction and honour. We have been well served. The present members of the Parliament have been well served by him through his office in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

During his period of 42 years in the Parliament there have been 500 members of the House of Representatives. In that time everybody who was a member has been able to speak with a fair amount of latitude. The Clerk is the only personit applies on this occasion also- who is not able to speak bis own words. The Clerk must listen. He must never interject. He must never volunteer. He may never create his own words. Members of Parliament are not supposed to read their speeches. The Clerk must.

On an occasion like this I may be forgiven for reminiscing. I have known Norman Parkes and Maida Parkes for a very long time- almost half a century. When I was a student in Canberra between 1928 and 1934 his father was the Clerk and he served the community in 2 capacities- in church and state. I am not sure that I should attribute to him any responsibility for my own participation or lack of it in either of those capacities. My eldest son, my colleague, was a colleague of Norman Parkes' son when they were students together in Canberra. Therefore, with more than usual personal involvement I take part in this occasion when we farewell and wish well a very great servant of this House and nation.

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