Since Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop resigned as Speaker following scrutiny over her travel entitlements, there’s been plenty of speculation about who will take the prestigious role of controlling the House of Representatives.
While names such as Victorian MP Sharman Stone and Queensland’s Jane Prentice have been suggested, five Liberal MPs have declared their interest in succeeding Bishop.
Among the candidates is Philip Ruddock, 72, a former Howard government minister dumped from his position as chief government whip earlier this year after the failed spill motion against prime minister Tony Abbott.
Coalitions MPs have said he is the most likely replacement for Bishop, as the “Father of the House”, and the longest serving MP.
Russell Broadbent, 64, a former retailer and shire councillor, first elected in 1990, has also been pegged as a favourite for the position.
He has been cited for his close relationship with Labor as well as being a member of the speaker’s panel and can act in the role of deputy speaker while a decision is made.
Next in line is Andrew Southcott, 47, member for the South Australian seat of Boothby and doctor, who confirmed he would stand earlier last week.
“It is one of the most important roles in Federal Parliament, and I would be honoured to serve, if asked to do so,” he said on Monday.
Ross Vasta, 48, a Queensland Liberal, has also announced his candidacy. He has served on the speaker’s panel in the last 18 months and says that he has a “vision for a Parliament that better reflects the standards demanded of it by the community”.
Finally, there’s Tony Smith, 48, a former staffer to Peter Costello, who was an early front runner to replace Bishop.
The backbencher has been an MP on and off since 1990 and says he believes he has “the experience, temperament, and strength necessary to do the job”.
Smith has been backed by trade minister Andrew Robb.
The Speaker will be chosen by a ballot of the Coalition party room on Monday before Parliament resumes.
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