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Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Page: 8

Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (11:41 AM) —Mr Speaker, may I join in congratulating you on your re-election to this high office. The fact that you were the unanimous choice of the parliament demonstrates the trust and the confidence that your fellow members have in your capacity to do this job. You had to wait rather a long time to get the nod from your own colleagues, and the unseemly searching around for somebody else to do this job is a reflection on the government, not on you. The reality is that you are the best person to fill this office. The parliament has made the right choice. You are capable and you are experienced. For a long time, you were Speaker in waiting. After three years in the job, you have a first-class understanding of the standing orders, you value the traditions of the parliament and you give to this House the dignity that it should have as the pinnacle of our constitutional democracy. Your good humour and able adjudication has also been appreciated by all members of the House.

I know that many more on this side of the House have tasted the wrath of your discipline than on the other side, but I have to acknowledge that from time to time we may have aggrieved you and that your wrath was justified. What is going to be most important for the future, however, is that the determination and the patience that you have shown is able to transform the parliament into a debating chamber more in the style that you have desired to happen and have expressed a wish to happen in the past. You have often said that your capacity to do your job was limited by deficiencies in the standing orders. I understand we are to get changes to the standing orders, but those changes of themselves will not be enough to change the culture of the parliament. Some of those changes have already been made in the Senate and I am told that it has not made all that much difference. So your role will be critical not only in ushering in these new standing orders but in making sure that they do indeed deliver a change in the culture of the parliament—especially at question time, which is I guess the period of this parliament which is most in the public eye, because it is really the only period that receives any kind of mass television coverage. I think the public judges very much the performance of the parliament on the basis of what they see in question time. So your challenge now, under the standing orders that you asked for, is to make sure that they do deliver a better parliament.

Your role is critical to the performance of the parliament. I am delighted that you have been chosen to be Speaker. I have no doubt that you will deliver to this office the same dignity and respect that you did in the last parliament and that, as a result, we can get about the business of building a better country with a parliament that works effectively and well. Congratulations, Harry Jenkins, on your election. I know that you will serve this office well.