House debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Statement by the Speaker

Fowler, Mr Peter

3:16 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Before members leave, I've got a very short statement. I want to say a few words about one of the staff of the Department of the House of Representatives, Peter Fowler, who is having his last sitting week in the House. Peter's there in the front row of the gallery this afternoon.

In December 1982, Peter was seconded from the Parliamentary Library, where he had worked, to the House of Representatives Procedure Office, where he established the procedural records system. Peter's been involved heavily in the preparation of all of the editions of House of Representatives Practice since the second edition, back in 1989. This has included extensive research, drafting of text and coordinating of all aspects of publishing. Of course, Peter has been very heavily involved in the most recent 7th edition that members have. There can be no doubt that such a dedicated focus on the main procedural reference volume of the House has been of considerable value in the continuity of the development of the text and a benefit to all of us.

Peter's also made a valuable contribution to the work of the Procedure Committee. Of particular significance was his work for that committee's 1993 report About time: bills, questions and working hours. That report led to many important reforms, including the establishment of the Federation Chamber, initially called the Main Committee, and which Peter has served as a deputy clerk. Peter also served as a deputy clerk in this chamber.

In 1988 he was awarded an Australia Day medallion to acknowledge his significant contribution to parliament and the department. His sustained focus and interest in House procedure has made him an expert, and he has offered guidance and assistance to many new staff over the years. We wish Peter and his wife, Anne, all the best in retirement and, of course, he leaves on a high after the publication of the 7th edition of the House of Representatives Practice. Congratulations, Peter.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

3:18 pm

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal and National parties, we would like to thank Peter Fowler for his service to the parliament and the nation since 1982, particularly in terms of our procedures and our practices since 1989. I don't think it is unfair to say that Peter Fowler is to procedure what Johnathan Thurston is to rugby.

Honourable members: Rugby league!

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Spoken like a South Australian!

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Spoken like a true South Australian!

Dr Chalmers interjecting

That was mean and cheap, Jim, but that's you!

As a former chairman of the Procedure Committee, and of course as Leader of the House and Manager of Opposition Business, I have studied the procedures over many, many years, in fact 2½ decades—thanks to Wilson Tuckey, encouraging me early in my political career—and much of that work that I've been studying is the work of Peter Fowler.

People like Peter Fowler have done a marvellous service by this great parliament, which is one of the models of the parliaments around the world. I'm sure his procedures have been adopted by many parliaments around the world. For those people who are part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and travel around the world and see other parliaments in action, I'm sure the work that we've done here has impacted on them, which means that Peter Fowler has impacted on them as well. He leaves with our gratitude and our thanks.

3:19 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to assure Peter Fowler that the comments made by the Leader of the House are shared by all members of this place, except for the Rugby League reference.

Honourable Members:

Honourable members interjecting

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Opposition Business (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

He left my club. The work that is done in Practice is absolutely critical to how this place operates and it makes sure that there are limits on how far interpretations are tried. I must say we have tried very hard to set as many new precedents as possible for the new volume this term. We've got a few in there that we're very happy about. But, for all of that work, a parliament needs constant rules to be able to function. While the standing orders are the starting point for that, it's House of Representatives Practice that actually delivers it and makes sure that we're able to do that. While we might be talking about a whole lot of work that is technically only one publication, it has guaranteed the democracy of this place and it's been really important. So thank you, Peter.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!