Standing up for Canberra

Mr John Athol Pettifer CBE

I rise today to pay tribute to Canberran John Athol Pettifer CBE , who passed away on 20 January at the age of 94. Jack Pettifer had a unique connection with the Australian parliament.

Not only did he rise to serve in the esteemed position of Clerk of the House of Representatives but also he could make the fairly unique claim that Parliament House was his home, having lived at the house as a child when his father was appointed housekeeper in 1933. Jack Pettifer's father, Tom Pettifer, joined the parliamentary staff in 1901 , and between them the two Pettifers served on the staff of the federal parliament for more than 81 years. Jack was appointed to the staff of the House of Representatives in 1939. He was Serjeant-at- Arms when the proprietor and editor of a weekly newspaper were accused of breaching parliamentary privilege , brought before the House and sentenced to jail.

He was Deputy Clerk of the House of Representatives in 1975 and he described the dismissal as a ' startling and dismaying experience ' . In 1981, he became the first editor of House of Representatives Practice, which his son, Ken, describes as the highlight of his career. On his retirement, in 1982, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser described Jack as 'a great servant of this House and, through it, of Australia'.

In 1980 , he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and he was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003 for his service to the federal parliament. On behalf of the people of Canberra, I pay tribute to him for his excellent service . I pass on my condolences to his family.

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