Motion - Clerk of the House of Representatives

01 Aug 2019
Prime Minister

Mr Morrison: (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (15:18): I move:

That this House place on record its appreciation of the long and meritorious service to the Parliament by the Clerk of the House, Mr David Elder, and extend to him and his wife and family every wish for a healthy and happy retirement.

The Clerk is a very humble man. He has been a gentle reminder to all of us who have had the good grace to serve in this parliament during his tenure, whether here or down the road—and there are many who have had that opportunity; hundreds of members, if not over a thousand, whom he's stewarded have come through this place—of the dignity and great honour it is to serve in this chamber. There are 151 members here, many of those for the first time, following the last election. All of us remember—I'm sure new members do, because it was only a few weeks ago for them, and I'm sure all of us do, whether it was 12 years ago, as it was for me, or much longer than that, as it was for the Leader of the Opposition, who was first elected back in 1996—the day when we first walked onto this carpet and how special a privilege it was for us.

We approach the parliament in the morning, and we look up at this atrium; you leave the chamber, you see the flag and you nod to the Speaker—a reminder of our country, our history and our responsibility to it. It's something that connects us all, despite our often very significant differences at a partisan or any other level. But we are united in this, and this House is united in showing its deep appreciation to the Clerk.

This place doesn't just rely on the beliefs, the courage, the passion and the integrity of all of those who come here and the enthusiasms of all of us who have been elected; it also relies on the dignity and institution of this House—the impartiality, the judgement and the enthusiasm of those who serve this parliament, whether as Clerk, attendants, Serjeant-at-Arms or others. Our Clerk—the 16th Clerk of the House of Representatives—has worked, as the Speaker has just reminded us, in this building and the one down the road for 38 years. I'm pleased you've only had nine prime ministers, not 10!

Mr Albanese: Don't speak too soon!

Mr Morrison: It's his last day, mate, so I can be confident of that!

But, in keeping with the tradition of all those years, he has not spoken a word in this parliament in one of these microphones. You won't find any word he's said in the Hansard, really, in terms of offering commentary on bills or anything of that nature. Though he has been among us, he has not joined us in those debates, muttering interjections or any of those things, but for 38 years he's let his actions speak for him in the dignified way that he's conducted himself—his judgement, his integrity, his demeanour. We have seen the true character of the Clerk through the very decent, honest man that he is. He reminds us that we are all—from the father of the House to the newest member—only temporary custodians of this institution which we inhabit for a time.

So, can I say more informally to you, David: thank you for your service to our country and to this parliament. You have served it with tender love and devotion, because that has been your passion and your service, and we thank you. We thank you for your dedication. We wish a very happy and long retirement to you, Louise and your family, who have earned, I have no doubt, this retirement with you that you can share with them. So, on behalf of the government, I want to extend our thanks and appreciation for everything you have done for us, for this parliament and for our democracy. May God bless you.