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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11662


The SPEAKER (21:24): I wish to express my grateful thanks for the high honour the House has pleased to confer upon me. I am truly speechless at this time, and those of you who know me well will find that passing strange. I am deeply honoured and moved by this incredible honour that the House has bestowed upon me. At the outset, can I thank the members for Capricornia and Wills for their gracious and kind words. They almost moved me to tears. It is difficult to hear yourself praised. We do not accept it easily or lightly, so I accept those absolutely delightful remarks.

I do look forward to this great honour and indeed this difficult challenge. I hope I will serve the House with distinction and pride as only the second female Speaker in this chamber. I will draw upon the great legacy of Joan Child, who was the first female Speaker in this House. Joan is, as many would suspect, getting on in years and not in great health. I am looking to her for the inspiration she showed in the way she led this House, also in some difficult circumstances.

I also have the legacy of Harry Jenkins, the member for Scullin, to follow and to live up to. Harry taught me many, many things and I am incredibly grateful and appreciative for his kindness and his guidance—sometimes not his wit or his dancing ability. But I do express to him my gratitude for his assistance in this role.

To the member for Fisher, I also want to extend my thanks for his delightful remarks about me today but also for the gracious way he stood aside this afternoon in very difficult circumstances. The member for Fisher has done the role of speakership a great honour. He undertook the role in a very dignified, effective and impartial manner, as many in this House have commented on. I praise and thank him for the role he undertook in that light. I want to record my many thanks to him for how he conducted himself in this chamber and for how he always treated me and my staff with the utmost respect.

I am a bit saddened that my delightful husband and children and my mum are not here tonight to. share this, but I know they are glued to channel 24. So I hope you are broadcasting or they will be greatly disappointed! None of us can do these roles without our family support. None of us are here on our own. Without our staff, without our electorates and without our families we do not do this job. It has been 14 years for me in this parliament. I have had both my children since being here, so obviously my husband has been an enormous support over those many years and I really do need to thank him for that. Also, he is in the middle of his studies and all the rest that is going on in his life, so I apologise now for the further impost I am about to place on it.

So I do need to thank Steve at the outset, but also my mum and my brothers and sisters. Many of you on the government side of the House know my extended family, who have also been an enormous support to me over the many years. Sadly, Dad is no longer here to see this. I know, in his inimitable fashion, he would have been very proud but would have rung me up afterwards to tell me what I had done wrong.

Often your greatest fans are your greatest critics. I know he will be somewhere looking down upon me, delighted at how I am doing, as he is delighted with how all his children are doing.

Thank you very much for this honour. I look forward to serving the House well and with distinction. I ask you all to remember that we serve this parliament and the people of Australia, and to uphold the dignity they deserve.

The speaker having seated herself in the chair—