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Biographical Dictionary of the House of Representatives

Saturday 28 August 2021

The NCB has just completed a major new joint historical project with the Department of the House of Representatives. The Biographical Dictionary of the House of Representatives project charts one of the most prominent groups largely missing from the wider annals of Australian history—the men and women who since Federation in 1901 have held the position of Speaker, Deputy Speaker, or Clerk of the House of Representatives. 

The Department of the House of Representatives engaged the ANU’s National Centre of Biography in 2018 to prepare and publish online biographies of these men and women, who presided, managed and supported the work of the House. The resulting sixty-four biographical entries, written by an array of skilled contributors, now appear on the Centre’s website. The project was funded by the Department, and managed within the NCB by Stephen Wilks.   

The core of each biographical entry is the subject’s service as Speaker, Deputy Speaker or Clerk, but a balanced account of the whole person is also provided. Issues that this project explores include the relationships Speakers had with governments and their party; how they contributed to changes in parliamentary procedures; and the Speaker-Clerk relationship.  

The Department will also later provide thematic articles on the roles of the offices of Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Clerk. For further information, contact Dr Stephen Wilks, or (02) 6125 2349.