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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 2201


Mr SPEAKER —I wish to inform the House that the Principal Parliamentary Reporter , Mr James William Roberts, has advised me of his intention to retire from his position on 1 January 1985, shortly after his 59th birthday. He and I are of the same vintage. Mr Roberts was appointed a reporter on the Commonwealth Hansard staff in March 1957. Over the next 20 years as a reporter, senior reporter, supervisor and staff leader on the Hansard staff his duties covered the whole range of Hansard reporting, from the reporting of the Houses to the reporting of committees and conferences, in particular the Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks in Western Samoa in 1977.

Following his appointment as Assistant Principal Parliamentary Reporter in September 1979 he was the Department's representative on a joint management review team which made recommendations on such matters as the recruitment and training of reporters, the further development of the Hansard indexes and the use of computer based equipment in the production of committee transcripts. He was the Department's first member of the steering committee on parliamentary information systems.

Mr Roberts was appointed Principal Parliamentary Reporter on 21 February 1981. Since that time he has led a relatively young and inexperienced reporting staff with distinction. He has been a major contributor to the maintenance of the high standards set and achieved by our Hansard staff. He has attended the annual meetings of the Australasian Hansard Association, which comprises the heads of the Hansard staffs of all the parliaments of Australia and the South Pacific region. Also, in July this year he visited London where he was attached to the Hansard staff of the House of Commons and attended the first meeting of heads of the Hansard staffs of the member parliaments of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Before coming to Canberra in 1957 Mr Roberts was a New South Welshman. He was born in Parramatta and spent much of the first 30 years of his life in the northern beaches area of Sydney. He was a member of the New South Wales police force from 1942 to 1950 and a reporter in the New South Wales Court Reporting Branch of the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice from 1950 to 1957. Mr Roberts and his wife, Pat, have a son and two daughters, one of whom is following in her father's footsteps and currently is a reporter on the same court reporting staff on which her father began his reporting career.

In his early years in Canberra Mr Roberts was active in the coaching of schoolboy rowers and rugby union teams. From time to time he has gone fishing and made use of the skills he learned in the years he spent in the northern beaches area of Sydney before coming to Canberra. His other interests include gardening and stamp collecting. Over his many years of service to the Parliament Mr Roberts has had the support, encouragement and understanding of his wife, Pat . I am happy to say that Mrs Roberts is sitting in the gallery this evening, and she will appreciate that our warm remarks go to her also.

I am a relatively new Speaker in terms of service but I have appreciated Mr Roberts as one of the heads of the parliamentary departments. He is extremely easy to work with. When he gives advice it is concise, clear and right to the point. I am sure I speak on behalf of all honourable members when I express to Mr Roberts appreciation of his dedicated and faithful service to the Parliament and, Jim, I wish you and your wife a long, healthy and enjoyable retirement.