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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1814 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

have strengthened this institution. I have appreciated his frank and fearless advice and I have appreciated always his commitment to ensuring that this place operates in the way that people in the territory would expect it to operate.

Mark, thank you. You will be sorely missed.

MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, I have known Mark McRae as Clerk of this Assembly since 1992 and, as members would be aware, for 61/2 half years from 1995 I was in your chair. Mr Speaker, you and I probably share a deeper secret than other members of this Assembly in knowing the tremendous contribution that Mark McRae has made to the running of this Assembly.

It took me a little while to realise that, as Speaker, I did not have to make decisions myself; all I had to do was to ring Mark McRae. No matter what difficulties, what impossible situations I found myself in, Mark would always find a way out. Let me just record for Hansard HMAS Canberra. I shall say no more.

The advice was always wise and sensible. It was, in fact, quite surprising that I found that I could rely, without question, upon the Clerk for all sorts of problems. Mr Speaker, I am sure that you have experienced the same situation.

The position is no small challenge. One faces all sorts of difficulties in the role of Speaker and it is not only pleasing but also remarkable to have the support of somebody like Mark McRae as Clerk and have the confidence of knowing that there is a way out of a dilemma, which was my experience in my 61/2 years as Speaker.

I was interested to hear that other members felt that they could come and talk to the Clerk on all sorts of matters and their confidence would be respected. That has certainly been my experience. Like Mr Wood, I am amazed at the knowledge of this man in terms of House of Representatives Practice and Odgers' Australian Senate Practice.

I got into all sorts of difficulties up there in the chair, Mr Speaker, and every time something was found-if it was not in our standing orders, it would be in the federal parliament's standing orders-to enable me to extricate myself, but other members may say weasel out, thanks to the help of the Clerk. That is no small achievement when you consider the standing orders and the difficulties that we can get into in this parliament.

I remember with affection the presiding officers' conferences that we have shared together and the interesting times that we had there as well as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conferences in London, Edinburgh, Jersey and Canberra. I would like to share with members that Mark is a keen student of the history of this district, particularly the oddities that come up from time to time. I have had the pleasure and enjoyment of him sharing some of those with me. I am sure that he will pursue them in retirement.

It has come as a bit of a shock that he has announced his retirement. I was interested to see that it will be occurring on 6 June, which, as we all know, is D-day. No doubt, in Mark's terms it will be departure day, but maybe it will also be a new beginning.

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