The Biographical Dictionary of the House of Representatives highlights the contributions of the men and women who, since Federation, have served the nation in some key roles in the House of Representatives.
The Clerk of the House, Claressa Surtees, notes that ‘the project represents the considerable efforts by the National Centre of Biography and the Department of the House of Representatives, along with a range of contributors. The biographies shine a light on those who served our nation, as Speakers, Deputy Speakers, and Clerks from the time of Federation.’
Former Clerk of the House, David Elder (himself the subject of a project entry), observed at the start of the project that, ‘Australians are used to seeing the day to day political struggle of the House on the news but this project will tell us a much more reflective story about the role of the House and how it works. As an institution it is absolutely central to our democratic framework. The project will help explain three of its key offices.’
‘Members who have been elected to be Speaker or Deputy Speaker have stood apart from the politics of the day. When they take up those roles it is on behalf of the whole House. The third group, the Clerks, are principal advisers on House operations. Their role is a much less public one and they have always been expected to work impartially.’