John Harold Campbell, OAM
28 September 1925 – 1 November 2019
John attended Hyde Street Central School before MHS, he was active in the YMCA and contributed to the Unicorn. He joined the Victorian Public Service upon leaving MHS. He was in the Law Department, including time as Clerk of the Courts of Petty Sessions, North Melbourne. In 1949 he became a Clerk at Parliament House, and was promoted in 1983 to Clerk of the Parliaments and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly until he retired in 1985. He received the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and the Medal of the Order of Australia on Queens’ Birthday 1987 in recognition of service to the Victorian parliament. When he retired, the Premier John Cain delivered a significant vote of thanks, the opposition leader (Jeff Kennett) pillole per erezione and old boy Alan Stockdale spoke, amongst others, a notable tribute.
Luke Savage, Honorary School Archivist
OFFICERS OF THE HOUSE
New appointments Officers of the House
The SPEAKER-I have received a letter from John Harold Campbell, Clerk of the Parliaments and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, indicating his wish to retire from Parliamentary service on 28 September instant. …
RETIREMENT OF JOHN HAROLD CAMPBELL, ESQUIRE, J.P.
Mr CAIN (Premier)-By leave, I move: That this House places on record its appreciation of the valuable services rendered to the Parliament and to the State of Victoria by John Harold Campbell, Esquire, as Clerk of the Parliaments and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, and in the many other important offices held by him during his 43 years of public service, of which 36 years were spent as an officer of Parliament. The motion being circulated includes information on the record of services of Mr Campbell. It is a considerable record dating back to 1942 when he first became a public servant at the Law Department and served as Clerk of Courts at what is no longer the Court of Petty Sessions, but the Magistrates Court, at North Melbourne. John Campbell’s progression through the Public Service and to this place in 1949 is detailed in that document. It is appropriate that honourable members should take this opportunity of paying tribute and expressing their thanks and respect to John Campbell for that long and dedicated period of service. The motion I have moved records that thanks and respect. John Campbell has provided dedicated service over 43 years to Parliament and to the community. He began his service with the Law Department and after seven years transferred to Parliament, and has remained in this place for 36 years.
Mr Kennett-That is a long period to be in this place.
Mr CAIN.-I shall not reply to the interjection because there are many options attached to it. John Campbell rose through the ranks from Clerk of the Papers to Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and finally reached the peak of achievements in that structure when he was appointed and sworn in as Clerk of the Parliaments in 1983. As all former and existing honourable members know, John Campbell has distinguished himself in all of the offices that he has occupied. He has worked hard to master the procedures of the House. I suppose to many honourable members when they first come to this place the procedures appear to be arcane and almost Byzantine.
Mr Ross-Edwards-I have been saying that for years, but you have been learning slowly.
Mr CAIN-The real way to learn is to be involved in on-the-job training and that is the way John Campbell learnt his tasks. He was then able to guide and instruct honourable members so that the House could conduct its business in an orderly and competent fashion. It is one job where one can get all the outside advice and instruction and have all the academic skills one would wish, but the floor of Parliament is where it all happens and that is where one must learn the way the procedures work. Parliament has Standing Orders that provide a basis for honourable members to be able to work in this place, but they require a person’s skill in their interpretation and application. The person with that capacity is a custodian of the traditions that are so important in administering the smooth-running of Parliament. The positions filled by John Campbell over the years have been undertaken with enormous tact and responsibility. Above all other things, he has the ability to be a good listener and to retain the confidence of honourable members when they seek advice or counsel from him. That is an essential ingredient for any Clerk of the Parliaments. He must have the confidence of all members of Parliament whom he serves. Without that confidence, he cannot do his job. John Campbell has enjoyed that confidence because of his competence and capacity to do the job that he has done for so long. On behalf of the Government and all honourable members, I extend our thanks to him for his service to Parliament, for the role he has played in it and for the wider service to the community. Together with all honourable members, I wish John Campbell well in the years ahead for his retirement.
Mr KENNETT (Leader of the Opposition)-It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Opposition to second the motion moved by the Premier in recording the appreciation of this Parliament for the service rendered by John Campbell to Parliament and Victorians, particularly over the 36 years as an officer in this place. As I interjected earlier while the Premier was speaking, that seems an inordinately long period of time to me who, at 37 years of age, has been on this earth only one year longer than the time John has served Parliament and the people of Victoria. I am given to understand that no member of Parliament-I am not sure about other Parliamentary staff-has served Parliament as long as John Campbell. The Minister for Housing has been the father of both Houses of Parliament for some time, and he would appreciate better than most the worth of the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Newer members of Parliament will not yet have a full appreciation of the work as they will not have had the need consistently to seek the advice and assistance that the Clerk and his officers give to members to enable them to do the work that the public expects of them. After a few years, when Parliamentary responsibilities of newer honourable members increase, they will need to come to terms with their own limitations concerning the procedures of the House and they will learn that they will need to rely heavily on the advice of the Clerk and his officers to achieve their aims and objectives in accordance with the forms of the House. The Premier referred extensively to John Campbell’s record of service. What he did not mention and what needs to be recorded also are the services John Campbell has given outside this Parliament. He has represented the Parliament of Victoria in missions overseas and nationally on a whole range of issues. Outside the Parliamentary sphere he has been very much involved with the scout movement. The activities undertaken by John Campbell within the Scout Association of Australia to cub, senior scout leaders and sea scouts is so vast that one would have to wade through a great amount of detail to enumerate his contribution towards giving young people in the community some sense of purpose. As his service to Parliament has been extensive, so, too, has his service to the public in imparting to younger generations the same values that he has exercised in his career and within his own family.
Parliament will miss the services of John Campbell. Parliamentarians will miss his abilities in discharging his responsibilities as Clerk of the House. We will miss his companionship and his sense of humour and, from time to time, we will miss the arguments that we have enjoyed with him when we have not been able to initiate some formal procedure which, in our opinions, quite obviously was within the laws of Parliamentary procedure but for some quirk of fate was not admissible. John will leave this place with the respect of members of Parliament and members of the Parliamentary staff who have worked with him over many years. Today is the last working day for John with this Parliament and it has been suggested to me that one of the reasons that he is leaving today is that shortly his son and daughter-inlaw will present him with his first grandchild. I understand that his daughter-in-law is four days overdue in giving birth; that event perhaps could occur today. When his grandchild is born, John can be assured that there are many members of Parliament who will be able to provide him with membership forms of certain organizations that his grandchild and his future grandchildren may wish to join. In wishing John and his wife Marie well, I make the passing reference that the same applies to senior officers of Parliament as it does to Parliamentarians, that often the unsung heroines-or heros-are the spouses of Parliamentarians who give their very full and at times very Quiet support, which is not often recognized publicly. I know that applies to Marie, who has given her support to John during his career with Parliament. I extend to her our thanks. We wish John and his family, his wife, his four sons and his future grandchildren, well for the future and I trust that John will continue in retirement the friendships that he has made in this place. Mr ROSS-EDWARDS (Leader of the National Party)-I am privileged to join with the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition in supporting the motion on the retirement of John Harold Campbell and to pay tribute to the 43 years spent in the public service and, in particular, to the 36 years spent as an officer of Parliament. I first pay tribute to his record in this Parliament. Those honourable members who know John well are aware of his close family ties with his wife Marie and his four sons. They would be aware of his outstanding service, together with his wife, to the scouting movement. John Campbell has also been involved in a host of other community activities, particularly with his church. John has carried out his duties in various roles with great distinction. I draw particular attention to his involvement with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The association plays an important role in the life of Parliaments throughout the Commonwealth countries of the world. John Campbell has been involved in the organization and, as the Leader of the Opposition said, has represented Victoria on many occasions at Commonwealth Parliamentary Association functions. Virtually every honourable member who has travelled on a Commonwealth Parliamentary trip owes considerable gratitude to John Campbell for the organization and knowledge that he has been able to pass on to the respective member. John Campbell has always been very conscious that he has an obligation to Parliament rather than to the Government. Of course, he has served Governments of different political colours, but he, like other Clerks, has a responsibility to the Parliament and not to the Government. I have become aware of that because, like so many honourable members, I have spoken to him scores of times in confidence on matters taking place before the House and I am conscious that his advice is not only available to me, but to every member of the House who wishes to consult with him. I thank John Campbell on behalf of myself and members of the National Party for his service to Parliament and his friendship to us all. I wish John and his wife, Marie, many years of good health and happiness in their retirement and I know I speak on behalf of all honourable members in saying that we look forward to retaining his friendship in the years to come.
Mr FORDHAM (Minister for Industry, Technology and Resources)-It gives me enormous pleasure to support the motion before the House to mark the years of dedicated service given by John Campbell. I happen to be one of those who still regard Parliament as a noble institution and the job of the Parliamentarian as one that one should look forward to as a noble role itself. That is because of my concern for Parliament and its vital role in the functioning of a democracy. I am delighted that the Parliament has had in John Campbell as Clerk of this Assembly and in more recent years, Clerk of the Parliaments, one who also shares that view about the important role of Parliament. For Parliament to operate effectively, of course, it needs to have a Government and Opposition that work according to the proper order and proper function of Parliament, but it also requires assistance by staff who are able to assist those members of Parliament to undertake that proper order. The Legislative Assembly has been very well served by the staff it has. As one who knows something about this from studying the issues across Australia and elsewhere, I know that the Victorian Parliament is in a very fortunate position. That team, of course, has been led by John Campbell. John has seen his role of that of the other Table Officers and dozens of other officers who work within the Parliament as making the job of Parliamentarians that much easier and the Parliament as a whole function properly. He has dedicated his life and his work to the task of the proper facilitation of the operation of Parliament. To some, the word “May” means a time of autumn and moving to a bleak time. However, for John Campbell it is the other Bible, and May is there, growing in grandeur each year. It is one of a trifecta that John Campbell has come to know lovingly and with deep feeling: the Speakers’ rulings of the past, the Standing Orders and May’s Parliamentary Practice. Those documents are drawn upon by the Table Officers, by the Speaker and by interested honourable members in understanding how the Victorian Parliament is to function. It was in that context that I first started to work more closely with John Campbell. Following my appointment as Leader of the House for the Labor Party, then in opposition, many, many years ago in 1977, it was part of my responsibility also to understand May, previous Speakers’ rulings and the Standing Orders in considerable detail. To undertake that task, there was none better to talk to than Table Officers, particularly John Campbell. He has made his time and office available to all honourable members and has been prepared to undertake a very arduous but worth-while task. As the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have already demonstrated, John Campbell has, during a long period of service to Parliament, developed a remarkable understanding. Honourable members are losing an enormous fountain of knowledge of the way in which the Assembly in Victoria has operated, not only in the years that he has been in Parliament but also over a much longer period-particularly when drawing on the wealth of Standing Orders, Speakers’ rulings, and, above all, the great book, May’s Parliamentary Practice. I have one other point of contact with John Campbell: he is a Footscray boy. John was born in Footscray some years ago, and we have had the opportunity from time to time of reminiscing about the Footscray of the past and of discussing the Footscray of the present. That has been very pleasant indeed. I wish John well in his retirement. I have no doubt that he will visit Parliament from time to time and keep in touch with the operation of the Assembly, to which he has dedicated his life. I extend my best wishes to John Campbell. Mr AUSTIN (Ripon)-I have much pleasure in supporting the motion and joining in the remarks made by the three Leaders and the Deputy Premier.
On coming to Parliament in 1972-and I think I had been in Parliament House only once before-one of the very first people I was taken to meet was John Campbell. Parliament seemed very mysterious to me at the time, but John Campbell was very easy to meet and very helpful, and appeared to be interested in meeting a new member. I came to Parliament following a by-election, and John helped me on a one-for-one basis for some time. That was my early experience with John Campbell, and nothing has changed over the years. I have been to see him frequently, and not only has he been extremely helpful, but also he has been interested in my problem and keen to assist, as though it was almost a pleasure to do so. He has given 36 years of dedication to Parliament and, although many of us are able to relax when matters before the House do not come within our area of responsibility, John Campbell has had to concentrate on the job at hand for virtually every hour that this House has sat. That is the responsibility that he has carried out in a highly professional manner. I wish John Campbell and his family a happy and pleasant retirement. Being relatively young and fit, John will undoubtedly find time to take his boat out onto Port Phillip Bay and catch a great number of fish. To John Campbell, I wish you the best. Mr WILKES (Minister for Housing)-I desire to join with my colleagues in supporting the motion recognizing the services of John Campbell to the Parliament. When I was first elected to Parliament, John was Clerk of the Papers and he was just as anxious to serve the Parliament in that capacity as he has been over the years. When one remembers the names of the Clerks of the Parliaments who served prior to John Campbell and in his time, Clerks such as Hughie McLachlan, John Robertson and Bruce McDonnell, one readily recognizes the fact that John Campbell’s work has equalled the work of those great men-and they were great men in their dedication to the Parliament. More importantly, I can never understand how a Clerk of Parliaments, who is human and who is entitled to political views-that is, at home in the lounge room because the Clerk of the Parliaments is certainly not entitled to express political views in the House but has to demonstrate impartiality, which John Campbell was able to do-can deal with the Labor, Liberal and National parties. John Campbell has been able to do that over many years and he has performed his task effectively and to the satisfaction of all parties. That is the acme ofa great Clerk of Parliaments. I wish John Campbell every success in his retirement and I hope that he recognizes that there is a life outside Parliament. Mr PLOWMAN (Evelyn)-It gives me great pleasure to support the motion, having been one of the four Speakers whom John Campbell has had to break in, nurture, support and look after during his term as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. I refer to the Clerks of this place as the on-going professionals. Honourable members, Speakers and Governments come and go but the individual Table Officers must serve with impartiality the Government, Opposition and Parliament of the day. Over the years John Campbell has demonstrated an incredible capacity to give his time and advice impeccably to both the Speaker of the day and to honourable members. During my term as Speaker I could not speak more highly of the advice that John gave me, especially during the early period of my time as Speaker when I had 32 casting votes to make. That was a difficult time for both of us but the impeccable advice that John gave me during that lime certainly helped me to make the right decisions and it certainly helped the Parliament in its ‘acceptance of those decisions. One of the things for which John Campbell will be remembered over the past couple of Parliaments, this Parliament and in Parliaments to come is the establishment of the seminars to assist new honourable members. As a number of honourable members have said, when they were first elected to this place they found the Standing Orders, practices and procedures difficult to understand and to come to terms with. Most new honourable members have sat for months and wondered how the devil they fitted into this place and what they were doing here. John Campbell recognized that dilemma and established training for new honourable members through seminars to give them a feeling of belonging and an understanding of how this place works. That is one of the very great services that John has given to new back-benchers who come into this place. Another point I wish to make about John Campbell is that, regrettably, we attended only one Presiding Officers’ conference together in New Zealand and that was interrupted after my being there for 24 hours when I was asked by the then Premier to come home in a hUrry. In that time, I registered the fact that Presiding Officers around this nation-not just in Victoria-regarded John Campbell extremely highly. I venture to say that he is now regarded as the most imposing figure among Clerks of the Parliaments around this nation. It is of extreme credit to John that he has risen to such prominence in national terms and has served this Parliament so well. he has served with impartiality, with distinction and with dignity and Victorians, not just this Parliament, owes a debt of gratitude to John Campbell for his services to the State. I am happy to join with others to wish John and his wife a long and happy retirement and, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, good fishing. Mr HANN (Rodney)-I wish to express my personal appreciation to John Campbell on this occasion. When I first came into Parliament he held out a hand of friendship and advice and right from that early stage one could say that he has carried out this role in a distinguished manner. The place will not be the same without John’s physical presence and the support he has given to honourable members. The honourable member for Evelyn mentioned the respect with which he is known throughout the Commonwealth. John spent some time in the House of Commons some years ago and that added to his experience. This Parliament was fortunate that he was able to take up that opportunity and bring the benefit of that experience to Victoria. One of the features of the Parliamentary system is that close personal relationships build up between the staff and the members of Parliament because of the discussions that take place from time to time and the working relationship that exists. That is one of the real benefits of this place: it crosses party lines; it has no party barriers, and it is one of the things I appreciate. I support the views which have been expressed today. John Campbell has served this Parliament in a distinguished and effective manner for a long time. I wish John, his wife and family a long and happy retirement. Dr COGHILL (Werribee)-It gives me very great pleasure to support this motion and the words of earlier speakers. As with most members of this place, I came to meet John Campbell immediately following my election in May 1979. From that first meeting I was most impressed by the thoroughly professional manner in which John Campbell approached his responsibilities. All honourable members will endorse the fact that he has observed the highest standards of professionalism in the way in which he has worked to help the processes of this Chamber. As a new member, John Campbell was of immense assistance to me in learning what this Chamber is about, something of its traditions, the traditions of the Parliamentary system and the ways in which this Chamber works. From time to time he gave me advice which I found to be very wise counsel, counsel based on a very deep font of knowledge, knowledge based on a very deep and long understanding of the Parliamentary processes, traditions and the history which lies behind those processes. Most new members find the practices and traditions of Parliament mystifying and cannot see the point of various Standing Orders or the rulings that are from time to time. I found, as others have found, that John Campbell was able to clearly and precisely explain what lies behind the rulings made by you, Mr Speaker, and other speakers, and the various Standing Orders by which we are bound. He has been of immense assistance to each of us in that learning process which we must all go through as we serve in this place. As Parliamentary Secretary of the· Cabinet in the previous Parliament and this Parliament, I have found John Campbell to be of particular assistance and I am sure that previous Cabinet Secretaries have found him to be of similar assistance to them. He has been of enormous assistance in the facilitation and operation of Government Business, not by taking short cuts but by providing the co-operation and assistance of all his staff and by explaining and helping with the development of procedures appropriate to special circumstances which might apply at a particular stage of proceedings or in some actions that the Government may need to take from time to time. John Campbell has been of enormous assistance to me, as he has been to other honourable members and to other Parliamentary Secretaries of the Cabinet. I speak on their behalf and express our gratitude and, as with other speakers, wish John and his wife well in their retirement. May they have a long and happy retirement together.
Mr MACLELLAN (Berwick)-Having been Leader of the House on both the Government and Opposition sides, I join honourable members in expressing my appreciation to John Campbell for the advice that he has given over the years. Not only was he a master of Parliamentary procedure but the most valuable advice he gave us, as I am sure would be remembered and seconded by the Minister for Housin~, the Deputy Premier and the Deputy Leader of the National Party, was “You can do thls but”, and it was what followed the “but” that was important. John would quietly advise, “Yes, the House can do whatever it likes. Yes, if you do have the numbers you can do this that or the other. But there is a Parliament to be considered and there are the years ahead of the Parliament to be considered.” It was often the cautionary advice that he gave that was the most valuable advice. It was not the technical advice-which was impeccable-but it was the advice on how Oppositions should not frustrate to the point of making Parliament unworkable and Governments should not use their numbers to the point of making Parliament completely irrelevant. That is the Parliamentary advice that he has quietly given to use over many years. I hope that John will use his retirement years to write something about Parliament, not necessarily about behind the scenes, but articles for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to stress to members of Parliament, to candidates and people that might wish to become members of Parliament that there are strengths in the system and there are opportunities to make the system better. With his perspective of public service since 1942, John brings a tremendous strength and wealth of experience to that role and one which is an example to anyone in this Parliament. To John and Marie and the family, I hope they enjoy their retirement both in Melbourne and Newhaven. I hope the waters of Westernport Bay are calm for sailing and that the winds are favourable. I hope the fish bite. I am sure that John will retain the friendship and affection of all members of Parliament and that he will have many years of happy and active retirement ahead of him. Honourable members will be the poorer for not having John to turn to. There are new Table Officers who have worked with John over many years who will no doubt step into the gap that he leaves because of his retirement.
Mr B. J. EVANS (Gippsland East)-I was always under the impression that I had a close friendship with John Campbell. For a start, we were born in the same year and we commenced our careers in the rarified atmosphere of this Chamber in the same year. We shared a common interest in scouting and, although I do not share his obsession with fishing, I certainly share his appreciation of the many fine resorts along the coast of Gippsland east.
Although I would like to comment on the tremendous job that John Campbell has done as Clerk in this Parliament, I shall confine my remarks to endorsing the remarks that have been made by previous speakers. It is sufficient to say that I now realize I have not had any special friendship with John Campbell because he treats everyone exactly the same. That is a mark of his greatness. Mr LEA (Sandringham)-I place on record the congratulations and best wishes of the people of the Sandringham electorate to John and Marie on the event of John’s retirement. I shall make a brief comment about the way in which he welcomed me as a newcomer, assisted me personally and offered advice during the many chats we had. What has not been said today is that in her own right Marie has done a lot in the community, as John has. Over the years they have become known for their wonderful service to the local people in the Sandringham area. Their time has been given freely. One could comment, as other speakers have, about the wonderful service John has given Parliament. However, perhaps not enough is known about the wonderful service John gave locally. I convey my personal congratulations on his period of service, although, unfortunately, I have seen so little of it. I wish good health, long life and prosperity to John and his family and to Marie, and may the years to come be the best yet!
Mr STOCKDALE (Brighton)-It would be presumptuous of me to comment in the way some other honourable members have, since I have been in this place such a short time, but it is important to record my appreciation, as a new member, for one aspect of the work of John Campbell that has not been mentioned. It is easy for those who seek advice from professionals and other office bearers, if they know the field in which they are operating, to anticipate all the problems they face and discuss them with the person who is in the best position to give the advice. I had a feeling when I came to this place that, to some extent, I had come in at the deep end. It was a great comfort to me and gave me a great deal of confidence in serving as a member to go to John and not only to get advice on the matters I could raise, but especially to know he was anticipating the problems which might occur which I could not foresee. That is a particularly important point for new members and the extent to which he went out of his way to make me welcome and raise my confidence in fulfilling my duties in this place was of tremendous importance. I thank him for the assistance I have had in my short time in this place and wish him well on his retirement.
The SPEAKER-On behalf of John Campbell, I thank the House for the compliments that have flowed to John and Marie. I shall also make a few comments of my own. John has served in the Public Service for 43 years and served with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Victoria Branch) for some 16 years. He set a very high mark of excellence in the role of Parliaments in the Commonwealth of Australia-not just in the Victorian Parliament. At a function held for John and Marie last Friday I said that John had realized many of his ambitions. He has had an active career in the church; he is well known within the world of scouting; he served in the Mother of Parliaments in Westminster; he has sailed on a square-rigged ship, which was an ambition he set his heart on; he has been to Antarctica on a visit, apart from numerous other places, as Commonwealth Parliamentary Association members would be aware; as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly he has attended Presiding Officers’ conferences, he was appointed Clerk of the Parliaments and ensured the safekeeping of records of the Legislative Assembly; and finally, he is having the luxury of electing to give up work to go fishing! When I was a new member, there was no assistance of the type new members now receive. As one passed Quickly by the bar one received advice about what one did or did not do as a new member. I used to covet the role of the Clerk; I thought that was the best job I had ever seen in my life. I used to believe I would put my name down for that job if I ever returned to this earth. Since having been the Speaker of this House, I have given up that ambition! The Clerk of the House has a hard job; the job involves long hours, as honourable members are well aware, and it is difficult to please everybody when offering advice because in many cases, people do not receive the advice they want; they receive advice that is straight down the line. An additional burden of being Clerk is that, where most honourable members can leave the Chamber for relief for one purpose or another, the Clerk must sit through the lot, and he needs to have a special quality to assess what is now called debating. John Campbell has performed his tasks in his Parliamentary career with tremendous skills and excellence. I pay tribute to you, John. You leave the service and the administration of this place in excellent condition for the new Clerk. I wish you and Marie a long and happy future together. That will require some good fortune for Marie in October, but I know you will both enjoy your retirement. The Clerk has asked me to say on his behalf how deeply he appreciates the comments made by the Premier and the speeches made by other members of Parliament. He regards it as a great privilege and a pleasure to have served this House and will take with him many happy memories of the friendships made with members and his fellow officers. To this House and all its members and staff, he extends his best wishes for a continuance of its vital and effective contribution to the great State we all serve. The motion was agreed to.