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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7744

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (10:08): On behalf of the opposition, congratulations. For all our clashes with the former Speaker, we wish her well. Mr Speaker, you have been chosen by your peers as the first officer of the parliament, upholding a tradition that began with the parliament seven centuries ago, and you bring to this position a proud record of advocating for a more accountable, more representative Australian democracy, particularly in your role as chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. I am sure this is a proud day for you and your family. Your elevation brings an opportunity for all of us in this place to reflect on our behaviour and how this chamber operates. Let us begin by restoring a role of independence to the job of Speaker.

Serving as a Speaker is a privilege, not a prize; a responsibility, not a reward. Regardless of previous political allegiance, we welcome the Speaker's commitment not to attend their party room's meetings. Today is a chance to lift the standards of this parliament, to return them to a level which Australians rightly expect of their representatives—not just improving behaviour but lifting the standard of accountability. Mr Speaker, much of this challenge falls upon your shoulders. You can make this a place where straightforward questions get straightforward answers, where the words 'direct relevance' carry real meaning, where the Speaker manages debate without seeking to participate in it and where standing orders, including 94(a), are applied fairly to both sides of the House. In addition, I call upon the Prime Minister, in this spirit of change, to consider restoring supplementary questions and genuine scrutiny.

Mr Speaker, today we move from a proud supporter of the Warringah Rats to the Carlton Blues. But, whatever code we follow, I believe that the best umpires are the ones that you do not notice. Let this be the story of your speakership: an impartial officer serving an accountable parliament. Well done and good luck.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!