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Tuesday, 30 August 2016
Page: 9

The SPEAKER (11:37): I thank the member for Melbourne and all the previous speakers, led by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, for their generous remarks. I thank all of you for electing me as your Speaker in this 45th Parliament. It is truly a special honour to be chosen by you as Speaker, and especially so to be chosen unanimously, as the Leader of the Opposition referred to. To have the unanimous support of the House is not just a welcome endorsement; it is an important reminder that I am Speaker not only of the House of Representatives but also for the House of Representatives—that is, for you, the members of the House of Representatives. I am always mindful of that as I discharge my duties—I was in the last parliament and I will be in this one as well.

When I was elected just over a year ago, I pledged to do all I could to deliver a better parliament, to be as fair as I could in exercising my duties and responsibilities, and to strongly defend the contest of ideas and ideals—a contest that should be vigorous and at times will be willing. I also said it did not need to be as loud or rude as it is on some occasions. That does demoralise the public; we all know that. At the outset of this 45th Parliament, can I say I welcome the kind words but it is my job never to be satisfied. I will be doing everything I can to improve standards further, and of course each and every one of the 150 of us has a responsibility in that regard. I think, whether you represent a party or whether you are an independent, whether your electorate is inner urban, outer suburban, regional, rural or remote, none of the 150 of us can say that our constituents are satisfied with parliamentary standards as they are. We owe it to them to do more to improve things, and I will have more to say to that, not today but on another day.

But let me conclude my remarks on this first day of the 45th Parliament by congratulating each and every one of you on your election. As the Leader of the Opposition indicated, there are 37 members who have just been elected for the first time, two returning and 111 of us who have been re-elected. It is a rare honour indeed to be a member of the House of Representatives. Fewer than 1,200 people have had that honour since Federation, and on this first day of the 45th Parliament let us remember that. Thank you very much.