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Recognition of Service - Mr Shane Donnelly

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 24 November 2022

Tags: Democracy, House of Assembly, Parliament

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Shane, the Greens cannot believe you are going. We are going to miss you very, very much. We are so happy for you as well that you will find freedom in the outside world beyond this place.

Mr Speaker, in order to function and to be healthy, democracy needs its rules and it also needs those who steadfastly interpret and stand for those rules. In this place that is the role, in many ways, of the Clerk of the House. It is not defined in the job, but to be the Clerk of a House of Assembly in a Westminster parliament makes you a defender of democracy and that is ever so important.

Shane, I acknowledge your deep understanding of this place, its rules, traditions, its people, and your tolerance of us. I believe you have one of the best poker faces in the business. Sometimes I wonder what is going on about half a millimetre behind the surface and what you are really thinking. Often when there is mayhem in here, in the crossfire I look across to you and you are an island of calm in a sea of madness.

I have always appreciated, as the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have said, the time that you give to members and your patience. I must admit to occasionally having a little heart stop when you come over to me in the House and you say, 'Can we have a little chat', and I think, 'What have I done wrong,' and usually I have done something wrong.

Shane, thank you for your wise counsel from advice on parliamentary strategy and interpretation of the Standing Orders to checking a leaking tap in the Greens' office. It is true - the other day we had this tap explosion in the kitchen and there was a knock at the door and it was Mr Donnelly who had come along to help us. It was really lovely to see him.

I acknowledge that you have always treated members in this place fairly and impartially. As a member of a minor party in this place I have always felt safe in coming to you for advice, knowing that you will defend the rights of all members and that you will defend the rights of minor parties and Independents in this place. I enjoy your company very much and your quite dark sense of humour, I have to say.

In our office, it will be our policy and parliamentary advisor, Tom, who is the most grief stricken by your departure. Some people might go to bed with a copy of the Bible beside their bed. Our Tom, I am pretty sure, goes to bed with your interpretation of the Standing Orders which I might say, is an important body of work. I am sure all of us in this place like to think we understand the Standing Orders but I admit that I am patchy and variable on that front. This volume has been such a fantastic contribution to this parliament and I know how much work it took. On behalf of the Greens, thank you so very much for that.

I note in your parliamentary career you have been a very significant reformer, from the Companion to the Standing Order and Rules, to the redesign of position descriptions. In the documents that we got today, working with parliamentary staff in a collaborative way to make this place the healthiest possible workplace, you are a reformer with complete dedication to the Westminster parliamentary tradition and this place.

I note what was probably a pretty hard time for you as Clerk in 2018, and that is the first time I have seen your poker face collapse, after the election of Ms Hickey into the Chair as Speaker. As you say in your comments here:

I am unable to quantify the number, however, both the quantity and weight of the written advice and rulings I have produces has increased significantly from previous years while fully acknowledging that this was doing my job, the circumstances of the 49th Parliament were unprecedented and required the team of Table Officers, under my leadership, to rise to the many and varied challenges of those extraordinary political circumstances.

On behalf of the Greens I am 'sorry, not sorry' that we did that to you. I know how much it took out of you to keep this place running as smoothly as possible.

In closing, Mr Speaker, I want to say, Shane, go well. You have more than earned your retirement. Enjoy your quiet days. I like to think you will miss us occasionally but do enjoy your quiet time with your lovely wife, Mandie, your children and your grandchildren, with Laura, Erin and Megan. We have asked enough of you and it is their turn now. Go well. Thank you, Shane.