Victorian MP Tony Smith is the new Speaker of the House of the Representatives.
Smith was the victor of four candidates: Russell Broadbent, Andrew Southcott and Ross Vasta.
It came down to a vote between himself and Russell Broadbent. Smith carried the final vote 51 to 22.
“I look forward to what is an important and difficult job,” Smith said after the vote today.
As Speaker of the House of Representatives Smith says he will not attend regular Liberal party room meetings. This was reportedly strongly received and agreed upon by attendees.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues for their support, views and manner in which this election has taken place.”
“I also want to thank the other three candidates. They’re friends of mine, Andrew Southcott and I walked down together, we have been friends for 20 years, Russell Broadbent 30 years.”
Michael Sukkar, MP for Deakin, announced Smith’s nomination in parliament.
Sukkar said the member for Casey is honest to a fault except for one area… he’s “an absolute rev head”.
It was seconded and Smith was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He was dragged to the chair by his colleagues, greeted by Christopher Pyne along the way.
Tony Abbott congratulated Smith, saying he will serve the role of Speaker well based on their previous friendship and comradeship.
Abbott also acknowledged Bishop’s time as Speaker saying that despite her “admitted” errors in judgement she was a “warrior” for the causes she believed in.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten welcomed Smith’s decision to not attend party room meetings, agreeing that it was time that the role was more independent.
Pyne was met with a rowdy response when he declared his long-term friendship with Smith, since their time at university. He too paid “fulsome tribute” to Bishop.
In his first address to the parliament Smith recognised Bishop’s time as Speaker and thanked her for her service.
He thanked the House for their vote of confidence and said there was no greater honour than to serve as Speaker.
He acknowledged that there would be a mutual obligation between officers and members of the parliament, and that he would give “a fair go to all but in return I expect a level of discourse”.
“Parliament is a robust place,” he said, adding that it is where MPs “battle our view of better Australia,” but it should not be “rude or loud”.
“I can’t do that but together we all can,” he said.
“I have many friends in this chamber… They know I’ll be fair and I’ll bring to this place, to the best of my ability, a better parliament”.
He plans to periodically sit down and share meals with members of the parliament in order to “convey ideas to all groups”, and reiterated that he will not be attending weekly party meetings.
“I want to thank my family… my mum and my two boys… they found this last week interesting,” he said.
“I want to thank the prime minister for his friendship and confidence.
“While today is humbling day for me, it is also a sad day for many in this chamber,” he said reflecting on the death of former fellow MP Don Randall, who Smith sat next to in parliament for three years.
“Call it as he saw it,” Smith said.
He closed his address by saying: “Can I again thank my colleagues for the honour bestowed upon me, thank the parliament for electing me to this role… and I’ll do my very best.”
At 48-years-old, Smith is one of the youngest Speakers in the history of the Australia federal parliament.
He has served as the Member for Casey in eastern Melbourne since 2001. During this time he served as a parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister John Howard, served in the shadow ministry, and worked as an advisor to Treasurer Peter Costello.
He replaces Bronwyn Bishop, who resigned as Speaker on August 3, following scrutiny over her use of parliamentary expenses.
The Department of Finance revealed she had spent $5000 on a helicopter chartered flight between Melbourne and Geelong to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser.
Sky News reports that the Labor Party will not put up a candidate to oppose Smith.
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