Harry Evans, Former Clerk And Champion Of The Senate, Dies, 68

Harry Evans, the former Clerk of the Senate and one of that chamber’s most ardent proponents and defenders, has died. He was 68.

EvansEvans began his career in the Parliamentary Library. He became Usher of the Black Rod and then Assistant Clerk and Deputy Clerk.

He served as Clerk from February 17, 1988 until his retirement on December 4, 2009, a record 21 years. Clerks are now restricted to 10-year terms.

Evans established the Procedure Office to handle advice to minor parties and independents in the Senate. He was a fierce advocate for the rights and independence of the Senate, and a proponent of greater accountability of the executive government.

Statement by Senator Eric Abetz, Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Harry Evans 1946-2014

I was very sad to hear the news of the death of Harry Evans, who was Clerk of the Senate from February 1988 to December 2009, a record 21 years. [Read more…]


Harry Evans: Time For Reformation Of The Australian Parliament

Reformation, not reform, of the Australian Parliament is needed, according to the Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans.

Harry EvansAddressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Evans called for a reformation to enable the parliament to perform its prime functions, particularly holding the government in the lower house to account.

“What is needed is not “reform” of parliament but reformation. The latter term connotes a reform which is designed to return an institution to its original purpose, from which it has fallen away. We do not have parliaments so that they can be rubber stamps. We have parliaments to represent the voters properly, so equipped that the holders of the executive power cannot legislate by decree like absolute monarchs and can be made to account for their actions between elections. Any changes to the institution of parliament should be designed to assist those ends.”

Evans advocated fixed parliamentary terms as a “genuine reform”.

Text of speech by the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Harry Evans, to the National Press Club.

The Australian Parliament: Time For Reformation

The Australian Parliament, it appears, is perennially seen as an institution in need of reform.

Reform proposals are again being proclaimed. A reform is a change for the better. Are the changes usually proposed really reforms?

Before a major institution can be reformed, as distinct from simply changed, the following questions must be answered: What is the institution for, what functions is it meant to perform? Is it performing those functions well, and, if not, why not? Are there any changes which could make it perform its functions better? [Read more…]