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Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Page: 7


Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (11:34): Mr Clerk, I move:

That the honourable member for McEwen do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

The opposition is not unmindful of the tradition of governments promoting their own for this position, but there is also a strong tradition of oppositions putting forward and supporting their own. There is occasionally a lament that the modern Labor Party no longer has any tradesmen as members of parliament, but the member for McEwen's background with RACV roadside assistance makes him someone about whom this cannot be said—as well as making him a very useful person to know.

He was elected to the Victorian parliament in 2002 as the first Labor MP to represent the Central Highlands Province electorate in the Legislative Council. When he came to this parliament in 2010 he brought with him considerable understanding of regional Victoria. He was a founding member of Victoria's first Community Emergency Response Team and passionately devoted himself to assist the many families in his electorate who were devastated by the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. During the last parliament he served on the Speaker's panel, he served as Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia and he served on the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network.

This election for Speaker takes place against a somewhat unfortunate background. After the 2010 election the opposition were aggrieved that they had not won, and, in particular, that the Independents had not supported them. They hoped to make the hung parliament unworkable and to force an early election. They refused, for example, to provide any members for the Speaker's panel and engaged in a parliamentary strategy of havoc, chaos and mayhem. In doing so, they caused some damage to the standing of this parliament. Given that there appeared to be no penalty for this conduct there is some grievance on this side of the House and, of course, the temptation to retaliate in kind. We are, however, aware of the desire of the Australian people that parliamentary standards be improved and that the conduct of members of parliament improve. This is where the role of Speaker is important.

No-one doubts that the member for Mackellar is experienced, but we have experience of her. I think members will understand what I am saying when I say that she is very black and white: there are certainly no shades of grey with her. I understand that it is her intention to continue to attend meetings of her party room. On this side of the House, we are looking for a Speaker who can be even handed, reasonable, capable of seeing the other person's point of view and capable of seeing the other side of the argument. In this respect I commend to the House someone like former Speaker Jenkins, the member for Scullin, who I think was adept at presiding over the House through goodwill and by earning the consent of members rather than through the use of the rule book. In this respect I think that the member for McEwen has the right qualities. He is liked by both sides of the House and is capable of seeing the other person's point of view. Given that he has those qualities I urge the House to support his nomination.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?