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Thursday, 21 February 1985
Page: 5


Mr DOBIE —Mr Speaker, I congratulate you, sir, most sincerely on your re-election to the important role of Presiding Officer of this House of Parliament as Mr Speaker. I am sure that you will continue to give your all to the great task before you, a task which you performed so admirably in the Thirty-third Parliament. It is not sir, an easy task. I know and extol your personal dedication to the large job in front of you. By having had a vote from your peers it has shown, sir, that you now have the confidence of this Thirty-fourth Parliament-this greatly expanded Parliament and House-to undertake your solemn duty not only of presiding over the workings of this House of the Federal Parliament, but also, in so doing, of playing a most important role in ensuring that the democratic form of government shall prevail in Australia. Again, sir, I congratulate you and promise you my support during what I am sure will be vigorous times ahead. I also assure you, sir, of the dedication of each and every member of the Opposition to the Westminster system of democratic government.


Mr SPEAKER —I am sure that honourable members will understand my pride in being elected to the chair of the House for the second occasion. It is a proud moment for me in what has been, as honourable members have suggested, a long parliamentary career. I thank my old personal and political friend, the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes), for his nomination of me. I think most honourable members are aware that the Minister and I have had a long association over the years and are good friends in that sense. I thank the honourable member for Brand (Ms Fatin) for seconding my nomination. The honourable member is one of the class of '83 and had some of the learning process in the last Parliament. I think she has learnt well.

I thank the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) for his remarks. I think he knows my attitude to the House. As Opposition Whip during the last Parliament the honourable member, along with the other Whips, apart from a propensity to talk to certain regular visitors in the Speaker's Gallery, was most helpful in the conduct of the House. I am sure that he will not despair. After all, he probably knows that this is the fourth occasion on which I have been nominated for the position of Speaker and I have been successful only twice. Still, that is not a bad rate.

I thank the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) for his remarks, particularly his reference to the support received by me from my family. It is not only my wife but my whole family who are supportive and interested in this way. I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) for his remarks. When I complete my remarks he will realise that I am aware of the problems that arise as a result of the increased membership of the House and of the fact that we must take a sensible look at them. I thank the Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Sinclair). I know of his deep interest in the Standing Orders and practices of the House. I am sure that we will cross foils from time to time. I thank him for his kind remarks.

I suppose that every Speaker would like to feel that he had left his own mark on the Parliament. It is very difficult for a Speaker to do so. However, I believe that a Speaker should have some aims in what he hopes to do in the term of office given to him by the House. We have an enlarged House. The shift to the new Parliament House is imminent. I believe that we need to look at the procedures of the House. I take the point that, when looking at those procedures, a bipartisan approach must be taken so that we are assured that not only Government but also Opposition members are able to participate freely in the discussion that goes on. While I have a liking for some tradition and ceremonial, I believe that if procedures become archaic and need modernising to allow honourable members on both sides of the House to participate more fully we should do something about it.

Honourable members know of my keen interest in the broadcasting and televising of the Parliament. In the last Parliament the Joint Statutory Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings was looking at this matter. I trust that early in this Parliament that Committee, which I chair, will be able to bring down suggestions in that area, which will provide a firm basis for the future use of those means of communication in the new Parliament House. Those who experienced the experiment of televising last year and the problems that space restrictions caused will realise that we are in an even worse position this year as far as space is concerned.

With that growing complexity, the shift that is going on and the pressures and demands from honourable members for facilities and so on, I believe that at this stage we must take a good look at the career structure and the administration of the parliamentary departments so that when the shift takes place there will be a sound structure, procedurally, career-wise and administratively, for the future of the Parliament.

I hope that honourable members, when they talk about the duties of the Speaker, appreciate and acknowledge that I try to show tolerance. I will do so, to allow rational and even lively debate, but I hope honourable members will also realise that there are limits to tolerance and that there are limits beyond which the Chair should not be pushed if everyone is to get a fair go in the debate. In the last Parliament I tried to have an open-door approach for honourable members who sought advice. I hope they will appreciate that I intend to continue that practice. I thank the House once again for the honour it has given me.