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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1809 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mark, on behalf of all of us, congratulations on your retirement. I do not think that it will be retirement, as such. I cannot imagine that you will be retiring to the farm. I am sure that you will be retiring to much more enjoyment than some of us have given you here over the years.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services): This news was delivered to me just a day ago and all day today I have been trying to think of a suitable way that this Assembly could note the many years that Mark has spent here. I am sure that you will support me if I say that the best thing we can do is to sit through to about three or four in the morning! After 596 sitting days, I think that that would be a suitable end to the time in the chamber. Bear in mind that I have had six months more than that, as has Mr Berry, and Mr Stefaniak has had a bit less than that.

I wonder whether, if the real history of the ACT Legislative Assembly or of self-government in the ACT is written, emphasis will be given, as it should be, to the role that Mark McRae has played in setting the pattern in this place. It has been enormous, and it might be a good deal more than Mark would ever think it was.

It has been said, and it will be said many times tonight, that Mark has provided a fatherly figure here, but there has been guidance. During the day there is a constant stream of members going to talk to Mark or ask a question. More commonly perhaps, during the year members pick up a phone and ask him for a comment on some way of doing something and get an answer.

I should have realised that Mark had a big hand in writing that green book, because he picks it up and knows instantly which page to turn to. Blow the index; he knows which page to turn to and then points out some part of it. His advice to all members has been absolutely objective, impartial, direct and, might I say since it is probably of a legalistic nature, always clear, and that is a remarkable achievement. Advice has always been provided and it has been of great guidance to this Assembly.

Mark has a number of things to do there. The proceedings have to be meticulously recorded and he has to keep an ear to what is going on here so that he can prompt the Speaker, if need be-no offence, Mr Speaker; I have sat in that chair, so I know all about that. The thing that intrigues me is that he can do all those things and talk to you, open books and give you answers and write out a form of words for you at the one time. I think that that is pretty remarkable.

Mr McRae, you have earned the respect of all members. As one of the few old originals, I can really attest to that. I have not done a count, but the figure of 47 would be for every member who has been through this place. One member resigned fairly early. I don't know whether Mr Whalan was here when you came, but 47 members is a lot to accommodate and each of those 47 members would say, "Thank you, Mark, for what you've done."

In the nature of speeches upon retirement, I was looking for something to throw back at Mark, some odd little event that had occurred, something that he had slipped up on or

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