PRESIDENT OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
The Clerk of the Parliaments
, pursuant to the provisions of section 22G of the Constitution Act 1902, called for nominations for the office of President.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN
(Treasurer, Minister for State Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.34 p.m.]: I propose to the House and move:
That the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho do take the chair of this House as President.
The House meets today to elect a member of our Council to one of the highest parliamentary offices in the land, that of President of this Chamber. This is always a great responsibility, but never more so than now. In recent times we have heard again the first erratic beats of a drum calling Australians to a divisive form of politics we hoped had long ago been abandoned in our community. The political institutions of this country, including this House, must declare themselves against this dull, thudding intolerance. In electing a new President of this House honourable members have a tremendous opportunity to send a message to the world. The message is a simple one: Australia’s political institutions, like all but a handful of Australians, are tolerant and decent. Hard work, family values, respect for elders and respect for learning are qualities that I, and all the members of this House, locate at the heart of the Australian community. They should not be demeaned; they should not be shunted to the periphery.
The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho embodies those values in full. That is why the Government has
nominated her for the office of President. The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho, like one in four people in our community, was born overseas. She came to Australia in 1961. She holds tertiary qualifications in arts, social work and law. She spent years working for the community before seeking election to public office. She was elected to this House in 1988 and has served with distinction on the Standing Committee on Law and Justice and on the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Privilege and Ethics. Her work on the Standing Committee on Social Issues deserves special mention. The decision she has taken today is a brave one, no doubt the toughest of her political career. The Government supports her wholeheartedly.
The Hon. M. F. WILLIS
[2.37 p.m.]: It is appropriate that I make some comments at the commencement of these proceedings. I take this opportunity to address the House. At the outset I congratulate the first nominee, and the other members who I understand will be nominated for the office of President. That is an honour in itself. But it is an even greater honour and privilege to serve as President. That has been my lot for the past seven years. During that time I have applied all of what talent I have to that high office and to the protection, preservation and enhancement of this honourable House against all comers, without fear or favour. It appears, however, that by virtue of the events of last Thursday evening I have failed you, and have placed you now in a difficult position of filling the office of President.
For this I profusely apologise, and I beg your forgiveness. You should all know me well enough to know that I would never consciously do anything to bring this place into ill repute. My time in this House has occupied almost half of my life, and I am proud of my service to the community through my membership. To say I am embarrassed is an understatement, and I am deeply regretful for the trouble that I have caused you and for the distress and harassment that I have brought down upon my family. I am grateful to the large number of friends and other members of this place who have given me support and encouragement at this trying time. I also thank my wife and my family for their love and support in the face of harassment and stress. As to the specific task now before you, I make no further comment.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD
(Leader of the Opposition) [2.39 p.m.]: I propose to the House and move:
That the Hon. Virginia Chadwick do take the chair of this House as President.
This House has been well served by presidents of outstanding ability and outstanding leadership qualities, and I include among them my colleague the Hon. M. F. Willis. I propose the Hon. Virginia Chadwick for the position of President of the Legislative Council because I believe she possesses the qualities demanded by the House of those who aspire to that position. Virginia Anne Chadwick was born and bred in Newcastle, and still lives at Lake Macquarie. She was educated at Newcastle Girls High School and the University of Newcastle. She taught English and modern history in Newcastle and in London, and has taught in the TAFE sector.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick has been a longstanding member of the Liberal Party and was a member of its State executive. During that time she was an adviser on ethnic affairs to the leader and to the State President of the Liberal Party. For several years she was a trustee of the Ethnic Communities Council of New South Wales, and is still a member of that council. She was elected to the Legislative Council in 1978. During her early time in this House she was shadow minister for ethnic affairs, shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs, shadow minister for consumer affairs, shadow minister for youth and community services and, finally, shadow minister for education. She subsequently became the Minister for Education. She has also served as Opposition Whip.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick has served as Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister Assisting the Premier on ageing, youth affairs and the Hunter, Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs and Minister for Tourism. As I have said, the House requires that its President be of outstanding ability and possess outstanding leadership qualities in this Chamber, in the community and in the administration of the whole of the Parliament. I commend my nomination of the Hon. Virginia Chadwick to honourable members. I am sure she will continue the great example set by past presidents of the Legislative Council.
Does any other honourable member wish to speak to the motion that the Hon. Virginia Chadwick do take the Chair of this House as President? Are there any further nominations for the office of President?
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL
(Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [2.43 p.m.]: I propose to the House and move:
That the Hon. Bryan Vaughan do take the chair of this House as President.
All members of the Legislative Council are well aware of the Hon. B. H. Vaughan’s outstanding credentials as a member of this House and this Parliament. He would make an excellent President. I decided to nominate the honourable member for the office of President to give members of the Australian Labor Party the opportunity to vote for one of their members. As the Australian Labor Party has one of the largest representations in this House - indeed, its members occupy the Government benches - it is important that they have that opportunity. I apologise to the Hon. B. H. Vaughan for not informing him of my intention to nominate him. However, to have done so might have led some members to think that I had done a deal with the Labor Party.
Does any other honourable member wish to speak to the motion that the Hon. B. H. Vaughan do take the Chair of this House as President? Are there any further nominations for the Office of President?
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE
[2.44 p.m.]: I propose to the House and move:
That the Hon. Max Willis do take the chair of this House as President.
Last Thursday there was a great deal of tension because of the motion to remove Justice Vince Bruce from the bench of the Supreme Court. Also on that day the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby resigned after 17 years service in this House. Her farewell function was held in the President’s dining room that night. Obviously, the Hon. M. F. Willis as President at that time was not totally in control of the situation during debate on the motion relating to Justice Bruce. However, I believe that it is a wild exaggeration to say that he was "drunk as a lord", as was stated on the front page of the Daily Telegraph
. Honourable members know that the Daily Telegraph
thrives on sensationalism and is conducting an aggressive campaign against this House and its members, seeking its abolition.
During a discussion with the Hon. M. F. Willis on Friday afternoon, in which I asked about what had happened on Thursday night last, he said that he had been chairing the farewell function for the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby, that he had been drinking wine at the function and that he was extremely weary, if not exhausted, when he returned to the House to preside over the vote about Justice Bruce. After my conversation with the honourable member I issued a media release - by choice and not as a result of a request by the honourable member - saying that this House should sort out its own affairs. In the media release I suggested that the Hon. M. F. Willis should apologise to the House and to the public for his behaviour on Thursday night, and that the House should then decide what action, if any, to take about his future as President. Members of this House should decide who is appointed to the office of President, not the media - and certainly not the Daily Telegraph
In my press release I suggested that the Hon. M. F. Willis should apologise. He has made a sincere apology to the House today for his behaviour on Thursday night. I suggested further that his apology should be accepted and that he should withdraw his resignation. However, I have been advised that the honourable member cannot withdraw his resignation as it has been accepted by the Governor, and the only way to redress this matter is to renominate him for the office of President.
All members know that I am one of the strongest opponents in this House of alcohol and the abuse of alcohol, and I know that other members have similar views. Members know that I have requested the Parliament to supply non-alcoholic wines at all my functions. Many other members have non-alcoholic wines supplied at their functions and drink non-alcoholic wines with their meals, and I am pleased about that.
On this occasion I believe the House should show compassion and mercy, and reinstate the Hon. M. F. Willis as President. If he is re-elected as President today, he would be able to conclude his time as a member of this House, including his time as President, in March 1999. Instead of leaving this House with the sense of shame he now feels, he could leave this House in March 1999 with a sense of pride after serving as a member of this House for more than 29 years, including seven years as President. Some members may criticise me for nominating the Hon. M. F. Willis as President but I am conscious that none of us is perfect. I am certainly not perfect. We all know that the only perfect person was Jesus Christ.
I do not believe that members have had sufficient time to decide who should succeed the Hon. M. F. Willis in the important position of President. In many ways the position of President is most arduous. As Presiding Officers the President and the Speaker of the other place are virtually managing directors of the Parliament. The Hon. M. F. Willis carried out that role in an exceptional manner.
I have been lobbied all day, right up to this moment, to vote in a certain way for a replacement for the Hon. M. F. Willis. Rushed decisions are not in the best interests of this House. I acknowledge that when an office is vacated, nominations should be called for the position. Obviously this House cannot function without a legally elected President. I suggested further that the Hon. D. J. Gay, who is Chairman of Committees, act as President, but there is no constitutional provision for that. At least acceptance of my motion will give the House the opportunity to restore the status quo. In March 1999 the re-elected and newly elected members can decide who should fill the prestigious position of President of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Finally, I should like to make it clear that my nomination of the Hon. M. F. Willis is in no way intended as criticism, either directly or indirectly, of any of the other nominees.
Does any other honourable member wish to speak to the motion that the Hon. M. F. Willis do take the chair of this House as President? Are there any further nominations for the office of President? There being no further nominations, I invite the four candidates to address the House.
The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO
[2.51 p.m.]: I submit myself to the will of the House.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK
[2.51 p.m.]: I wish to express to all honourable members my deep sense of honour at having been nominated for this position. I submit myself to the will of the House.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN
[2.52 p.m.]: I do wish the Leader of the National Party had told me first, because then I could have done something about the numbers.
The Hon. M. F. WILLIS
[2.52 p.m.]: I made my comments at the beginning, and I said I would make no further comment.
There being four nominations, in accordance with section 22G of the Constitution Act 1902 a ballot will now be held. Before proceeding to the ballot, the bells will be rung for five minutes. I ask the media present in the Chamber to respect the privacy of members during the conduct of the ballot and not focus their cameras closely on them while they are voting.
[The bells were rung and the doors were locked.
The Hon. M. R. Egan:
On a point of order. Mr Clerk, I advise you and other members of the House that the Hon. P. T. Primrose has been paired from 12.45 p.m. today. That pair was confirmed as early as this morning. The Opposition has now indicated that that pair will not be honoured. The Opposition says that is because we are about to engage in a secret ballot. It is very easy to organise a pair. If one member on the Government side is absent, another member on the Opposition side absents himself or herself from the Chamber to honour the pair. I want the Parliament to be aware of this dishonourable act by the Opposition.
The Hon. J. P. Hannaford:
On the point of order. The vote is a free, secret ballot, it is not a trade union ballot in which members are expected to attend in pairs so that each can check how the other votes. I acknowledge that a pair was granted for general business, but not for a free, secret ballot for members to express their individual view on the election of the President of this House. Pairs are given between parties to allow that if a vote is taken on policy matters there is not an imbalance. This is not a vote on a policy matter but a ballot in which members may make individual decisions.
One of the Government members is absent and the Government would like a member of the Opposition not to participate in this ballot. I have no idea how individual members of the Opposition will vote. The logical consequence of the Treasurer’s argument is that I would have had to ask the Hon. P. T. Primrose how he would vote, and then try to find a member who intended to vote contrary to him. That is the ludicrous suggestion of the Leader of the Government, and it is the approach that the Labor Party takes to most of these types of issues.
The Hon. M. R. Egan:
To suit the convenience of the House I suggest that you do now leave the chair and cause the bells to be rung at 8.00 p.m.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile:
On the point of order. Originally the vote for the President was to take place today at 11.00 a.m. The question is whether the pair was to apply at 11.00 a.m. or at 2.45 p.m., when it would have been expected that the House would be dealing with Government business and when a pair would have been legitimate. However, the vote was postponed from 11.00 a.m. and I imagine that the pair is not now valid.
The Hon. J. H. Jobling:
On the point of order. As Opposition Whip it is my job to grant
pairs, and I did so quite willingly in advance, knowing that the Hon. Peter Primrose had to attend for a university examination. The pair was granted from 12.45 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. The House was scheduled to sit at eleven clock, when it was anticipated the member would have been present in the House to consider the matter before it; and there was no problem about granting a pair for the afternoon.
In the event, the Government chose - and I emphasise that it was the Government that chose - to meet briefly at 11.00 a.m. to swear in a new member and then to adjourn the sitting of the House from 11.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. It is the Government’s problem because it was fully aware of what was happening. If the Government had conducted business as was expected, it clearly would have had the pair that I granted for the hours mentioned. The Government had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Opposition and/or to attempt to bring the Hon. P. T. Primrose back. I make this explanation so that honourable members are perfectly aware of the time for which the pair was granted and that the Government chose to alter the sitting schedule of the House.
The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith:
On the point of order. I am unaware of any standing or sessional order that deals with pairs. Pairs are a party-political matter, and in my view this is not a matter on which the Government can argue. I would be delighted if the Leader of the Government would point out where in the standing orders or sessional orders there is reference to pairs.
The Hon. R. T. M. Bull:
On the point of order. As I understand the standing orders, a division cannot be interrupted for an adjournment of the House; and I suggest that the same would apply with a ballot. An adjournment could be granted at the conclusion of the ballot. If there is more than one ballot, the Government could seek to adjourn the subsequent ballots until a later hour of the sitting.
The sessional orders of the House provide for the recording of pairs for members who are absent from divisions, but the standing orders do not officially recognise pairs; they provide that members must be present in the House to record their vote in a division. The bells have been rung and the doors have been locked, so I cannot now leave the chair; the House must proceed with the conduct of the ballot. When the ballot is completed and the doors are unlocked, I could entertain a suggestion that I leave the chair until a later hour.
: The House will now proceed to a ballot. I will call members to the table in alphabetical order and give them a ballot paper. At the table members are requested to write upon their paper the name of the candidate for whom they wish to vote and then deposit the paper in the ballot box provided. The candidates are the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho, the Hon. Virginia Chadwick, the Hon. B. H. Vaughan and the Hon. M. F. Willis.
[The ballot was conducted.
Declaration of Ballot
announced the result of the ballot: the Hon. Virginia Chadwick, 21; the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho, 19; the Hon. M. F. Willis, 1; the Hon. B. H. Vaughan, 0.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick was declared elected President of the Legislative Council.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick was then taken out of her place by the Hon. J. P. Hannaford and escorted to the chair.
The President (The Hon. Virginia Chadwick),
standing on the upper step, said: I convey to all honourable members my thanks and assure them of my deep consciousness of the honour that this House has conferred upon me in choosing me as an independent and impartial President. I express my profound thanks and gratitude to all of those members who have supported me. A little earlier in the day events reminded me of Andy Warhol. However, that having been said, I express my thanks and gratitude to my colleagues who offered me such friendship and support. I say to all honourable members that I appreciate the honour bestowed on me and I realise also the absolute necessity and duty to follow previous Presidents, two of whom are in the Chamber, as examples of the impartiality of the Chair.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN
(Treasurer, Minister for State Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.28 p.m.]: Madam President, it will not come as any surprise to you to learn that I did not vote for you. Nevertheless, on my behalf and that of the Government, I offer you my sincerest congratulations on your election to the very high office of President of the Legislative Council. I have
no doubt that you will undertake the duties of President with great distinction, impartiality and independence. I wish you well in the work you will undertake on behalf of this House for the remainder of this Parliament. Who knows, you might reconsider your decision not to recontest election to this House. We will wait and see. For the time that you spend as President, I wish you the very best. I assure you that the Government will do its utmost to make your job as easy as possible.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD
(Leader of the Opposition) [3.29 p.m.]: Madam President, on behalf of the coalition I congratulate you on your election to this high office. You are the first female to be elected to a Presiding Officer’s position in the New South Wales Parliament. It is a laudable achievement for a person who has accomplished many firsts and a most appropriate next step in a challenging and outstanding career. When nominating you I indicated that the attributes required of a President are outstanding integrity, ability and leadership - attributes which you possess. You have the complete support and loyalty of the Opposition and, to a person, we congratulate you on your election.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN
[3.30 p.m.]: Madam President, I congratulate you heartily. You will remember about 16 years ago I predicted that you would be the first woman Premier of this State - and you disappointed me badly when that opportunity arose. You will be a great asset as the Chair of this House. I am very sorry that the old Scot’s boy did not record a vote for me, but that is the sort of thing one would expect from an old Scot’s boy.
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL
(Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [3.30 p.m.]: On behalf of my National Party colleagues I extend very warm wishes to you and congratulations upon your election to the office of President. As many members have said, it is an extremely important and difficult role. Having worked as your subordinate for four years, I can assure everyone that you are as tough as old boot leather when you want to be - and I mean that in the kindest sense, Madam President. You will do an outstanding job. You proved during your many years as a Minister that you are an excellent administrator, which is an important part of the President’s duties. Parliament is a large organisation, and we have the utmost confidence in your management abilities. Congratulations, and we wish you all the best for the future.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE
[3.31 p.m.]: On behalf of the Christian Democratic Party I am pleased to congratulate you on your election to the office of President. We know that you will provide excellent leadership as President of the Legislative Council. I was pleased to hear the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about your toughness. A tough President is needed to lead us and to protect this House from those who wish to abolish, undermine or discredit it. We know that you will perform that leadership role like Joan of Arc.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH
[3.32 p.m.]: Madam President, you will recall back in 1978 when the first popular election for membership of the Legislative Council was held, you headed the ticket and I was number two. I said then that it was the first time I had had a woman on top of me. We have come a long way since then and it has been a great pleasure to have known you and to have worked with you, especially in 1988 when we were both in the ministry. I am sure you will do an outstanding job; you will have the great support of all members of this House in the performance of your duties. The best of luck to you in the future.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN
[3.33 p.m.]: Madam President, I too would like to congratulate you. I am thrilled that after many years we at last have a woman President. I was looking forward to the vote today because no matter what happened, we were going to get a woman President. I am very happy, and on behalf of all the women in the Chamber I wish you well.
The Hon. D. J. GAY
[3.33 p.m.]: Madam President, I wish you well in your role and as Deputy-President I look forward to working with you. I echo the comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The role of President is not merely as a figurehead of this House. Parliament is a multimillion dollar industry and, as such, needs to be run properly by a good administrator. I believe that you will add honour to the position and to this House and will fulfil your role as an administrator very capably.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA
[3.34 p.m.]: Madam President, I congratulate you most warmly. I am sure that not only your family and all the members of this House are proud of you today but also and especially the people of Newcastle, whom you have always represented most ably. I remember meeting you more than 20 years ago at a meeting of the women’s committee of the Ethnic Communities Council when you were already showing a great interest in the welfare of groups who in those days were very much disadvantaged. Congratulations on attaining your new position. I know that you will be an excellent President.
The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE
[3.35 p.m.]: I would like to offer you, Madam President, my congratulations on your election today as President of the Legislative Council. As the person in this Chamber who has known you the longest - you have been my role model and mentor since I was a teenager - I feel enormous pride in your election to the office of President. I know that you will bring your sound judgment and enormous integrity to the position and that the House will be proud of the way you carry out your functions during the coming months. I am sorry that you will not be seeking re-election as a member of this House next year, because you have much to contribute to public life in New South Wales and Australia for many years to come. I offer you my congratulations, and I am sure I speak on behalf of all the people of Newcastle when I say how absolutely delightful it is that you have broken the hold of the north coast on the presidency of the Legislative Council.
The Hon. J. R. JOHNSON
[3.36 p.m.]: Madam President, as a former Presiding Officer I offer you my warmest congratulations and remind you that you have high traditions to uphold. For the first time in 32 years no son or daughter of the Tweed occupies that chair. The position passes to a new generation, and to a very gracious lady. Your dress today is magnificent, and it will be my constant plea that no other raiment adorn you. We know you as you are today; please come as you are. I offer my congratulations and wish you very well in the future.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI
[3.37 p.m.]: I join with the Hon. J. R. Johnson in saying that it is a sad day for the north coast when that region does not provide the President of this Chamber. However, a person of your background, Madam President, from the Hunter and with some experience in rural matters, will be of enormous benefit, and you will add a certain lustre to this House. I regret that this vote today had to be taken. I put on the record my strong admiration for the Hon. M. F. Willis, and for the Hon. J. R. Johnson who was President when I first came to this House. On a more serious note, I will not know what to say when interjecting now that you will no longer be sitting behind me. If I am in the wrong, I expect to be reprimanded in the same way that I was reprimanded by the Hon. M. F. Willis. I plead for some leniency and beg your indulgence that I not be the whipping boy to demonstrate your toughness early in your presidency.
The Hon. J. H. JOBLING
[3.38 p.m.]: Madam President, I offer my most sincere and hearty congratulations. A daughter of the Hunter has done well today. I am sure there will be much rejoicing and celebrating by all the people of that area. I have known you of long; you are strong- and fair-minded and singularly determined. The House will be extraordinarily well served during your presidency. We have done well in this House today. My congratulations go to you.
The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO
[3.39 p.m.]: Madam President, I congratulate you most sincerely in the spirit of democracy. You are a most gracious person and you know very well that I respect you highly. I have no doubt you will contribute to this House with the same distinction as the former presidents the Hon. M. F. Willis and the Hon. J. R. Johnson. I have sought your advice before, and just now I was your challenger. If anyone deserves the position, you do. Your election has brought enormous glory to all women, and I want you to know that I challenged you in the spirit of democracy. I am sure it means more to you to be challenged and to succeed than to have the position handed to you on a platter. I wish you well. I hope you will be impartial and independent, as all former Presidents have been. I wish you success and congratulate you. I am sure you will bring the same distinction to this House as was brought to it by former Presidents.
The Hon. J. F. RYAN
[3.41 p.m.]: With all that is going on here today there seems to be only one word that adequately expresses how I feel - Yes! Congratulations on a wonderful win. There can be no more deserving occupant of the chair.
The Hon. M. R. KERSTEN:
[3.42 p.m.]: Speaking as the member of this House who comes from further west in the State than anyone else, I can say only one thing to you, and that is: yeah, good on you, mate.
The Hon. M. F. WILLIS
[3.42 p.m.]: Madam President, it gives me very great pleasure to congratulate you on your election. You and I go back a long way in this Chamber. I will never forget the day of Liberal Party preselection when you were first made a candidate for election to this place - that day of knock-down, drag-out brawls and blood on the floor. But we got you selected. Since then you have been a very distinguished honourable member. You are deserving of this high honour. In many ways you are a poacher turned gamekeeper. You will know exactly what I am talking about in your first question time.
According to your statement your tenure in office will be short. I have no doubt, however, that
you will carry the task through with great distinction. I advise you now, as my predecessor advised me privately, that you will spend a great deal of your time defending this place and upholding its responsibilities, its privileges, its rights, its role and its functions, about which I am absolutely convinced and which I have been dedicated to preserve. As the great English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson put it:
"The old order changeth, yielding place to the new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." . . .
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of.
It would not have been appropriate for me to have been placed again in the chair, because it is timely that the old order changes and yields a place to the new. I hope honourable members realise that a member has no alternative but to submit to the ballot once he or she is nominated for this position. Madam President, it is not surprising that you won. Once again, congratulations.
I thank all honourable members for their very kind remarks and reassure them again of my absolute determination to bring respect, honour and impartiality to the role of President. I particularly thank the Hon. M. F. Willis for his very kind comments. I do that in no way seeking to detract from the comments and good wishes of other honourable members. Those who know me well will realise I have never contemplated or sought this position. It is a matter of deep regret to me that the events of the past few days unfolded. I intend to do my level best to uphold the standards that have been set by my two predecessors in the Chamber, the Hon. M. F. Willis and the Hon. J. R. Johnson.
The Deputy-President (The Hon. D. J. Gay)
offered the Prayers.