The family of The Friendly Bay Islander’s Managing Editor have celebrated a major personal family milestone at the Tasmanian Houses of Parliament.
Gerard Thompson’s father, Leonard Albert Thompson, was for many years the Clerk Assistant and Sergeant-at Arms of the historical House of Assembly.
Sixty years ago on December 4th, 1956, a major milestone was achieved when the magnificent Mace, the symbol of power of the Parliament, was presented to the Parliament in a ceremony to mark the Centenary of Responsible Government in Tasmania.
The beautiful bejewelled Mace was made in Tasmania by island jewellers and donated to the Parliament by the Davies Family, a notable Tasmanian family of the time.
The official presentation was made by Mr GF Davies to Len Thompson as Sergeant-at-Arms and was attended by the political and social luminaries of the day.
Len Thompson filled official Parliamentary positions with the House of Assembly for nearly 30 years and in 1961 was the first Australian Clerk of Parliament to serve in an honorary capacity at the British House of Commons.
As a former journalist, he also produced some of the first publications on parliamentary procedure.
His son, Gerard Thompson the Managing Editor of the Friendly Bay Islander, also has a parliamentary history as well.
“As a small boy, my father would take me to Parliament House on many occasions whilst he did some work out of hours and I got to explore every nook and cranny of the marvellous convict-built waterside building, one of Hobart’s most prestigious Colonial buildings.
“During my teenage years, I also did school holiday work at Parliament House, given the responsibility of being first to open the building and the task of vacuuming both upper and lower house chambers, and major offices and then deliver mail to various Government offices.
“I was able to learn the rudiments of snooker during lunch hour in the members’ snooker room and listen to Test cricket in the afternoons whilst relaxing in the famous Long Room lounge chairs,” he said.
Recently, his family had to attend a family event in Hobart and was invited to Parliament House by the current Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Hon Elise Archer. The House of Assembly is the Lower House of the Tasmanian Parliament.
Today the security surrounding the parliament is a far cry from when Gerard Thompson was a teenage holiday worker in the early 1960’s.
Elise Archer met the Thompson family which included Glenda and Gerard and their sons Daniel and Dane. She took them on a tour of the famous building which included a tour of the museum in the dungeons of the building, once played in by a youthful Gerard all those years ago.
A picture of the famous presentation ceremony to Len Thompson has pride of place in the museum display.
• Part of the Thompson clan Glenda, Daniel Dane and Gerard with Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Hon Elise Archer.
• Sergeant-at-Arms Len Thompson (right) receiving the bejewelled Mace 60 years ago.