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Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Page: 11

The SPEAKER (12:09): I thank honourable members for their comments. In taking this office and being elected to this office, I would say that I consider the office to be one of enormous privilege. When the Prime Minister nominated me, he said that I care passionately for this place. I do. I care passionately for its traditions. I care passionately for what it represents, in looking after the welfare of the people of Australia. So, when we talk about the need for more decorum, what I hope from that is that the people of Australia may see us as upholding their interests in a better way.

I notice the comments made earlier when an alternative candidate for Speaker was nominated. I think perhaps the lesson there is that sometimes you can talk yourself more into trouble than you can out of trouble. But that is not to reflect on the way in which I will be in the chair—I mean to be impartial. The comments I have made about attending party meetings are simply to do with the fact that I am a Liberal. But we do not deal with tactics, and I would not be part of that. In this chair I will act impartially. That is a responsibility that goes back to 1377.

I am delighted to say that I did not have to struggle too much today, because the welfare of Speakers has improved markedly over that period. It is part of the tradition that we do indeed show that in that struggle there were previous Speakers who, in acting as the interlocutor between the monarch and the parliament, perhaps either ended up in the Tower of London or lost their heads.

Can I say also that, when we make analogies to the parliament, I regard this as a strong and robust place of debate. It is not a classroom and it is not a polite debating society. It is a place where we fight for ideas, and the width of that table is symbolic in that we do not use weapons such as swords and we do not use fisticuffs. But we do use words. Sometimes we use them harshly, and we have standing orders that apply to that. As we go forward in this parliament, I do hope that we will raise our stakes in the eyes of the people for the peace, order and good government of the people of Australia.

Just for the record, the mode of address I would expect to receive is Madam Speaker. I also intend perhaps to revive a couple of the other niceties we have used from time to time, but we will see how that goes.

Can I end by simply saying that I am delighted to have my family present in the gallery today. I also am very honoured to have had friends come today. It is for me, I think, the capping of my career. It is true that I am the first woman from the conservative side of politics to have held this role. We have had two from the Labor side, and I pay respect to Anna Burke for the job she did.

In relation to words said about the sisterhood, I say that I have never, ever put myself forward other than to say, 'I am the best person for the job.' I hope that is the reason that 93 people voted for me today.

I will conclude by saying that there will be times when there will be turbulence and there will be times when we can feel that the heat and the anger of the place rises. It will be my job to try to keep order whilst the place remains one for robust discussion of ideas and competing ideas.

I thank the House for the vote I have received. I am here to serve in the traditions of the parliament.