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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13783


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (12:49): I second the motion. I have the honour of seconding this nomination of Mr Slipper. First of all, I would like to join the member for Banks in my sincere regret that Mr Jenkins, the member for Scullin, is leaving his position. I would like to restate that he has not just done the parliament proud but also done his party proud. We have all, in the very difficult circumstances of a hung parliament, had as Speaker a man whom I believe has exercised his responsibilities with all the neutrality and goodwill that he can.

Anyone who has observed Mr Slipper as Deputy Speaker in the period of this very difficult hung parliament would have to say—whether one knew him well beforehand or not—that he has also exercised a knowledge of procedure and fairness to a very great extent. If one observed his knowledge of standing orders and procedures, one would know that he is, just as the member for Banks described him, a man who, with his knowledge of procedure, is perfectly fit for the role of Speaker.

As many people in this House know, when you are a parliamentarian you make unlikely friendships. There are people on both sides of politics who become knowledgeable of each other. Over the last years I have got to know Peter Slipper—and his very charming wife Inge, who I hope is here to participate in this honour to him—and I have observed a man who has been attacked by his local media but who in this parliament has behaved extremely honourably and has discharged his duties well. Despite his reputation in the local newspapers—which have seemed to me to have political axes to grind—he has a great affinity with human rights. He and I have travelled together to India and into the foothills of the Himalayas to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Mr Slipper, in the role of Speaker, will have to exercise a great deal of diplomatic dexterity, which I am confident, with his knowledge of international affairs and of people of other places, he will exercise. That is a very important role for the Speaker along with his performance in the House.

Mr Chester: Only two minutes to go, Michael!

Mr DANBY: I am pleased to get all of the interjections from across the aisle. They interject because they find the political circumstances of this nomination very uncomfortable, and I can understand that. I am not going to extend their discomfort any further. I have the great honour of seconding the nomination of Mr Slipper, the member for Fisher, as the Speaker, joining my good friend the member for Banks in that nomination.

The Clerk: Does the honourable member for Fisher accept the nomination?

Mr Slipper: Mr Clerk, I accept the nomination.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: Mr Clerk, I nominate the honourable member for Chisholm, Ms Burke, and I move:

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

Mr Clerk, it is my honour to move the nomination of the member for Chisholm, because that is the orthodox political position of the Westminster parliamentary system. This is the first time that a government has not nominated one of their own to be Speaker of this parliament. I heard the member for Banks trying to find some kind of alibi for what he knows has been an extraordinary day in Australian politics, and I respect the member for Banks. Without reflecting on the member for Fisher, I say that the member for Banks, the member for Melbourne Ports and all members of this parliament with any experience know that it is utterly unprecedented for the government not to follow the Westminster tradition of nominating one of their own members to be Speaker of the parliament.

The member for Banks referred to precedents in past years of members of the opposition who have been nominated for Speaker, but the point that he did not make is that on all of those occasions a member of the government was also nominated and that on all of those occasions the opposition could not possibly be successful in its nomination. The tradition of the Westminster system has always been in this country that a member of the government is nominated and a member of the opposition is nominated and that the person who comes second in those ballots usually takes the role of either Deputy Speaker or Second Deputy Speaker. My good friend the member for Cook in those days, Mr Dobie—I happened to be in the parliament in 1993; I have been here almost as long as the member for Banks—was nominated and he knew full well that he would not be elected as Speaker. This is the first time in this country that the government has decided to nominate a member of the opposition, and we all know why.

I nominate the member for Chisholm today because the member for Chisholm is, quite correctly, a member of the government and should take the chair as Speaker. The member for Chisholm has been the Deputy Speaker before in this parliament, from 2008 to 2010. Since that time—since the government did not re-elect her as Deputy Speaker after the minority parliament began—she has served on the Speaker's panel. I have served with the member for Chisholm on parliamentary committees in this parliament for many years. The member for Chisholm is a member of integrity and honesty who would fill the role of Speaker with absolute aplomb. She deserves to be nominated by the government for Speaker, not by the opposition, but I will nominate her in the absence of the government following the Westminster traditions upon which this parliament is based.

It grieves me that the former Speaker, Mr Jenkins, has retired today as Speaker of this parliament. I have had a topsy-turvy relationship with the member for Scullin over the period that I have been Manager of Opposition Business, but I think he has always been fair and reasonable. I have sometimes been known to say to him that, if I were him, I would have thrown me out more often than he did!

In praising the member for Scullin, can I say how disappointed I am, on behalf of the opposition and on my own behalf, that he has chosen to retire prematurely. He should have, in my view, served out his term as Speaker until whenever it finished. He was doing the job as well as anybody could be expected to do in a minority parliament. I will not reflect on the reasons for his resignation. I accept the statement that he has made to the parliament today. In doing so, I conclude my remarks and urge members of the House to support the member for Chisholm.

The Clerk: Is the nomination seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: Mr Clerk, I second the nomination of the member for Chisholm.

The Clerk: Does the member for Chisholm accept the nomination?

Ms Burke: Given that it was such a gracious nomination, I am loath to say it, but I do not accept the nomination.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: I move:

That the member for Lyons, Mr Adams, do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

I am disappointed that the member for Chisholm has refused the nomination. She would have been assured of my support and the support of the opposition. I believe she would have fulfilled the role with all the capacity that she has brought to this parliament since she was elected.

But, in the absence of the member for Chisholm accepting nomination, it gives me great pleasure to nominate the member for Lyons as Speaker of this House. I do so because the conventions of this parliament are that a member of the government takes the role of Speaker, in our Westminster tradition.

Mr Melham: Mr Clerk, I have a point of order.

Mr PYNE: Member for Banks, the Clerk will not entertain a point of order during these speeches and you should not place him in that position, as you well know.

As we know in this parliament, the Westminster tradition dictates in this country that a member of the government is nominated for, and usually elected as, Speaker. The member for Lyons has served in this parliament since 1993. He was elected in the same election as I was elected and he has been re-elected on many occasions since that time. He has been a member of the Speaker's panel of this place since 1996. For 15 years he has been a member of the Speaker's panel of this place and, of course, in the Tasmanian state parliament he was the Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker from 1980 to 1981, and as a former member, of course, of the Tasmanian House of Assembly from 1979 to 1982.

He has served as chairman and deputy chairman of many parliamentary committees. He is eminently qualified to fulfil the role of Speaker in this parliament. I am almost trepidatious in nominating the member for Lyons, knowing how he would like to deal with the opposition if he so took the role of Speaker in this parliament. I know that, if he fulfilled the role, he would do so fairly and reasonably.

I know, most importantly, his No. 1 qualification for Speaker of this parliament is that he comes from the government. Everyone in this parliament knows that the Westminster tradition in this country has been that the government nominates the Speaker and the government fills the role of Speaker. That is as it should be and that is why I nominate the member for Lyons.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the motion.

The Clerk: Does the honourable member for Lyons accept the nomination?

Mr Adams: No, I decline the nomination, Mr Clerk.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: I move:

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

Surely there is one member of the Labor Party who regards themselves as worthy to take the chair as Speaker of this parliament. Surely there is one member of the Labor Party who believes they could fill the role of Speaker in this minority parliament. Is there no-one in the Labor Party who believes that they would be capable of filling the role of Speaker in this parliament?

I nominate the member for Braddon, another member of the Speaker's panel who would fill the role of Speaker eminently well. I know his view of the opposition but I put it to him: does he have the courage of his own convictions? Does he believe that he could only be a member of the Speaker's panel or does he truly believe that he should take the great office of Speaker of this parliament and maintain the Westminster tradition which has been established in this place for 110 years?

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the motion.

The Clerk: Does the honourable member for Braddon accept the nomination?

Mr Sidebottom: No, I decline the invitation, thank you.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Honourable members interjecting

The Clerk: Order! Order!

Mr PYNE: I move:

That the honourable member for Cunningham, Ms Bird. do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

The member for Cunningham has been a member of the Speaker's panel since 18 February 2008. I would put it to her that she is eminently worthy to fulfil the role of Speaker of this parliament. I would put it to her, as I did to the member for Braddon, that surely she believes she has the capacity to be the Speaker of this minority parliament. Surely her colleagues would share the confidence the opposition does that the member for Cunningham can fulfil the role of Speaker in this parliament.

Again I state for the record that the No. 1 qualification of the member for Cunningham to fulfil the role of Speaker of this parliament is that she is a member of the government. If the government truly believe in this parliament and in the Westminster traditions upon which it is based, they would not be trashing the Constitution, trashing the standing orders or trashing the conventions of this parliament for 110 years, and not nominating a member of their own side to take the role of Speaker of this parliament. So, I put it to the member for Cunningham: take the role of Speaker of the parliament and do the job that we know you are capable of doing and that you should have the confidence that you are capable of doing.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the motion.

The Clerk: Does the honourable member for Cunningham accept the nomination?

Ms Bird: I decline.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: I move:

That the honourable member for Capricornia, Ms Livermore, do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

This is an extraordinary day in the Australian parliamentary system when the opposition is forced to move that members of the government take the role as Speaker of this parliament because the government would instead trash the traditions of this place by electing a member of the opposition. I do not wish to reflect on the member for Fisher by nominating other members, in this case the member for Capricornia. What I am trying to say to the parliament and to the people is that surely the Labor Party believe that there is one of their number who has the ability, the honour and the integrity to accept the role of Speaker of this parliament.

The member for Capricornia has been a member of the Speaker's panel since 20 October 2010. She has fulfilled that role with integrity and ability. I would put it to her that the opposition will support the member for Capricornia should she accept the nomination and take the role as Speaker of this parliament.

I have said before, and I will say again for the record, the Westminster tradition of this parliament dictates that the government fulfil the role of Speaker of this parliament and nominate one of their own. In the absence of the government having the courage and the political acumen to fulfil the role that they should of upholding the Westminster traditions, it falls to the opposition to do so.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the motion.

The Clerk: Does the honourable member for Capricornia accept the nomination?

Ms Livermore: No, I do not.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: I move:

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

It has been my privilege to know the member for Hindmarsh as a fellow South Australian since he was elected to this place. He attempted on numerous occasions to be elected as the member for Hindmarsh and was finally successful on his third try. Since that time he has been a member of the Speaker's panel in this parliament and he has fulfilled the role with all the ability he has been able to muster to do the job as well as he can.

Mr Clerk, you would assume that the member for Hindmarsh would have the confidence in his own ability to accept the nomination to be Speaker of this parliament, to take the chair. I know in his heart of hearts he is well aware that he would be capable of being Speaker of this parliament, and I would be very proud to have a fellow South Australian sit in the chair and preside over the House.

In fact, Mr Clerk, it would be most unusual if the member for Hindmarsh was not to take the role as Speaker of this parliament, because it would be the first time in this country's history that the government did not support one of their own to be Speaker of this parliament. Today will mark the day in Australia's history that the Westminster tradition was overturned in this country by the Labor Party simply because the Labor Party always puts political interests ahead of what is good for the parliament and for the country. Political interests have determined the day's proceedings by the Labor Party, but the Labor Party will come to rue this day. They will come to rue the precedent that they have created. I would urge the member for Hindmarsh to recognise the very serious act of vandalism that the Labor Party is visiting on this parliament and on our conventions and seriously consider accepting the nomination of the opposition to take the chair as Speaker of this House.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the nomination of the member for Hindmarsh.

Mr Georganas: I am sorry to disappoint the member for Sturt, but I decline.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: I move:

That the member for Reid, Mr Murphy, do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

The member for Reid has been a member of the Speaker's panel since 20 October 2010 and he has been in this parliament first as the member for Lowe since 1998 and now as the member for Reid following a redistribution in New South Wales in 2010. The member for Reid is well known to this side of the parliament for his integrity and for his honesty and for his intention to always uphold the values and principles upon which he came into the parliament. I know that the member for Reid has on many occasions agreed with positions the opposition has taken, particularly on life issues, over the time that he has been in the parliament.

I know the member for Reid would be truly disappointed, surprised and probably quite hurt by the way that the Labor Party has today decided to traduce the Westminster traditions of this parliament. I know that the member for Reid would have a very high regard for the member for Chisholm. I know that the member for Reid would be one of the people who would have been urging the Labor Party upon the retirement of Speaker Jenkins to support the member for Chisholm to be Speaker in this place. But in the absence of the member for Chisholm accepting the nomination of the opposition, I think it does fall to the member for Reid to search inside himself and recognise that today's act by the Labor Party—this unprecedented act—will ring as a day of infamy in this parliament. Therefore, to protect the traditions of this parliament, to protect the Westminster system upon which our democracy relies, the member for Reid should recognise his own ability to take the role as Speaker of the parliament and accept the nomination of the opposition that I move with pride today.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the nomination of the member for Reid.

Mr Murphy: I thank the member for Sturt, but I have never confused ambition with ability and it is my melancholy duty to decline the nomination.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: I move:

That the member for Calwell, Ms Vamvakinou, do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

The member for Calwell and I have not always agreed on every issue, I think it is fair to say, particularly on issues to do with the Middle East, but I know that if the member for Calwell was prepared to recognise her own ability and understand that she could be the Speaker of this place then she would accept the nomination of the opposition to take the chair of this House as Speaker. The member for Calwell is another member of the Labor Party who serves on the Speaker's panel and has done so in this minority parliament. You would assume, Mr Clerk, that every member of the Speaker's panel who is a member of the Labor party would recognise that they were worthy enough to be members of the Speaker's panel and thereby one day to be Speaker of this parliament. Is there no-one in the Labor Party who believes that they have the ability or the honour to take the role as Speaker of this parliament?

I would appeal to the member for Calwell, who has been in this parliament since 2001, for 10 years, to recognise that by accepting this nomination today as Speaker of the parliament she would be supporting the traditions of this place that she has vowed to uphold before. She has given many speeches in this place—as has the member for Chisholm, the member for Reid, the member for Hindmarsh, the member for Capricornia, the member for Lyons—about the importance of the Westminster tradition, the importance of the parliamentary system and the importance of democracy to this place. Fine words, but today is the day to back them with action—not to come into this place with syrupy words and drop those words into Hansard but to back them with action when they are put to the test. I put all these members to the test today and I am putting the member for Calwell to the test and ask her if she will back her good intentions with the action to support the traditions of this parliament.

The Clerk: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the nomination of the member for Calwell.

Ms Vamvakinou: Mr Clerk, honour and integrity I have very much, but I decline the member for Sturt's nomination.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr Windsor: Mr Clerk, I would like to nominate the member for Sturt. It may be the only way we'll shut him up.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal?

Mr PYNE: Mr Clerk, I move:

That the member for Petrie, Mrs D'Ath, do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

In doing so, can I say that the nomination by the member for New England unfortunately underlines what high farce this parliament has become. The member for New England's attempt at humour underlines what high farce the Labor Party has brought this parliament to. Far from being amused by the member for New England's action, all the members of the Labor Party who have signed up to this deal today should hang their heads in shame that the parliament has become such high farce that here in Canberra, inside the beltway, the Labor Party thinks it is amusing to trash the traditions of the Westminster system in this country.

The Labor Party thinks it is fun and amusing to entertain the nomination of me, a member of the opposition, as the Speaker of this parliament when the whole point of this debate today is that a member of the government should take the role of Speaker of the parliament in the Westminster system. It is no surprise that that nomination was not seconded, because nobody else was silly enough to second the motion of a member of the opposition to take the role of Speaker except the member for Banks and the member for Melbourne Ports, who have done just that today. Their parliamentary careers will be remembered by the fact that they took part in this grubby action today. I had more respect for them than they have demonstrated they deserve today.

I nominate the member for Petrie, Mrs D'Ath, who has been on the Speaker's panel since 20 October 2010 and was elected to parliament in 2007. I hope that she, at least one member of the Labor Party, will take the nomination. Can I find one member of the Labor Party who believes in themselves enough to uphold the traditions of the Westminster system and take the role of Speaker of this parliament?

The Clerk: Is the proposal seconded?

Mr Hartsuyker: I second the nomination of the member for Petrie.

The Clerk: Does the member accept the nomination?

Mrs D'Ath: I decline the nomination by the member for Sturt.

The Clerk: Is there any further proposal? There being no further proposal, the time for proposals has expired. I declare that the honourable member proposed, Mr Slipper, has been elected as Speaker.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

The SPEAKER: Honourable members, I wish to express my grateful thanks for the high honour the House has been pleased to confer upon me.

The Speaker having seated himself in the chair—