Thursday, 1 August 2019
Statement by the Speaker
Clerk of the House of Representatives
Very soon I will call the Prime Minister to move a motion to record the House's appreciation for the service of its Clerk, David Elder. As I mentioned a few sitting days back, everyone is aware of David's retirement, but today is his last day here at the table. We, of course, all want to recognise that incredible service.
I will just make a few brief remarks at a personal level. David, I met you a long time ago—in fact, 29 years ago—just after the 1990 election when I came to work in this building. After my election in 2001 I got to know you a little better, and over the years I have got to know you very well, particularly when you were the Deputy Clerk, with my role in committees. I was very, very fortunate that you were the Clerk when I became the Speaker—I had a huge learning curve—and I've been very fortunate every day since; I really have. Your encyclopaedic mind is matched by first-class judgement and also a first-class temperament. And, can I tell members, it is accompanied by a wicked sense of humour; it really is!
David, as we recognise your last day here in the House, we reflect on your incredible public service and your service to this House of Representatives. In your 38 years, beginning in 1981, you have seen nine different prime ministers, 14 different speakers and 17 leaders of the opposition. But, as you know, David—and this might surprise members—you are only the 16th Clerk of the House of Representatives since Federation. In so many ways the wider public possibly don't appreciate the role our clerks play as guardians of our democracy in giving frank and fearless advice to ensure the rules and conventions are upheld through the decades, and David has certainly done that. You've been a great leader here in the House of Representatives. You've served your House and our nation with distinction.
David's wife, Louise, and some of his family are with us today in the gallery. We wish you all the best, David. I'll miss your friendship. I know you've got great plans for your retirement to spend time with your family, particularly with your grandchildren. We will miss you. We hope you'll miss us! But we will miss you.