ACT News


Hang the Speaker ... his portrait that is

As was only to be expected, there were jokes about hanging the Speaker.

The man himself expressed a desire for it to be done quietly over the summer break so that those returning could stumble across this new adornment to the parliament.

But it was not to be.

In an occasion of much goodwill and good humour, former House of Representative Speaker Harry Jenkins, along with a large contingent of family, colleagues, staff members, onlookers and members of the media turned out for the official unveiling of his portrait.

That's a perk of every Speaker and the Jenkins painting now hangs in the public area of Parliament House, flanked by another former holder of the job, David Hawker, and previous Senate presidents Alan Ferguson and Paul Calvert.

Next up, of course, will be a more contentious occupant of the Speaker's chair, Peter Slipper, whose appointment in November 2011 curtailed the four-year Jenkins speakership.


His tenure, barely a year, ended in tears.

Mr Jenkins, the son of Hawke government Speaker Harry Jenkins, described his "hanging" on Friday as an auspicious occasion.

It is exactly 27 years ago to the day that he was elected to federal parliament, succeeding his dad as Labor MP for the Melbourne seat of Scullin.

He said it was indeed an honour to be painted by one of the nation's premier artists, Rick Amor, whose credits include deploying to East Timor in 1999 as an official war artist.

The former speaker, who described himself as a boy from the northern suburbs of Melbourne "who spelled culture with a K," wasn't commenting on what a fine looking fellow Amor had recorded for posterity.

"The portrait's there, whether you like it or not," he said.

"To the extent that I need to be comfortable with it, I am very comfortable with it because it is the work of a very fine artist."

Speaker Anna Burke said Mr Jenkins wanted a low-key event but 27 years of dedicated service could not go without appropriate recognition.

"We are here to see Harry hung," she said.

"Several people would really appreciate that but I won't go into those details."

Mr Jenkins was regarded as the most knowledgeable and procedurally correct Speaker to ever hold this position, Ms Burke said.

"Harry has a deep love of the parliament and its history, custom and camaraderie which shows in the exemplary way he held the duties and dealt with his role.

"He is second to none."