Page 1855 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 5 May 2009

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Tuesday, 5 May 2009

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Retirement of Mr John Clifford

Motion of thanks

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services): I move:

That this Assembly places on record its thanks to John Clifford, on his retirement as ACT Parliamentary Counsel, for the outstanding contribution he has made to the Territory since self-government.

Mr Speaker, members may be aware that Mr John Clifford has recently retired as head of the ACT Parliamentary Counsel’s Office. Mr Clifford was appointed as the Parliamentary Counsel in 2006, but he was the Deputy Parliamentary Counsel ever since the commencement of self-government. John has been an outstanding servant of the ACT, and this motion places on the record this Assembly’s appreciation of his efforts and thanks for the outstanding quality of his work.

Mr Clifford was pivotal in the establishment of the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office in the territory. Shortly before self-government he left the commonwealth for the new frontier of the self-governing territory. He was pivotal in establishing the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office, its management and its systems.

With only five others to keep him company, in 1987 he began the task of converting commonwealth laws and writing new ones for the emerging self-governing ACT. Mr Clifford is passionate about publishing legislation and enhancing public access to the law. Before self-government, there was only one reliable set of territory laws, an old cut and paste set, I am told. So the task must have been daunting even to someone with John Clifford’s natural enthusiasm.

Capturing these laws digitally was the start of a long march towards the ACT’s legislation register. John was instrumental in establishing the register and he is justifiably proud of it as the most comprehensive legislation site in Australia. He has worked tirelessly for its continuous improvement and its ongoing success is largely due to his efforts. A recent achievement has been the development of an enhanced search engine to the register, which will be launched shortly.

John Clifford’s fingerprints would be on almost every ACT law drafted since self-government. He has an unwavering commitment to excellence in drafting and a legislative style that combines precision, simplicity and clarity. This commitment has helped ensure that ACT legislation is of a uniformly high quality and that it is cohesive and consistent across the ACT statute book.

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