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Monday, 14 September 1987
Page: 36

Mr TUCKEY —I wish briefly to make some further remarks regarding the great abilities of Sir Billy Snedden as Speaker of this Parliament. It is probably forgotten by many, but of course recorded by Hansard, that when the honourable member for O'Connor asked his first question in this Parliament as a government backbencher he was ruled out of order by Sir Billy Snedden on the simple rule that I had included the name of a person in the question that I had lodged. I was given no sympathy. I was not given an opportunity to rephrase my question; I had had it. It was the first lesson I learned and I was looked upon very sternly by this person who, as a matter of fact, scared the hell out of me. Nevertheless, as time went by and I got over my chagrin, I became very much aware that the man treated us all, on both sides of the House, very fairly. In fact then Government members, and particularly Government backbenchers, had to mind their p's and q's or he dealt with them very severely.

Questions have been raised today about standards in this place. He obviously monitored the activities of the Parliament continuously from his office. It is my recollection that, when the going got a bit rough for a Deputy Speaker in here, one would hear `ooh' go around the chamber and there, standing at the door and fully robed with all the insignia of office, would be the Speaker. It had an effect and I am sure that a huge amount of that effect came from the great standing and prestige of Billy Snedden as the Speaker. Of course, there is other evidence of that. Probably the piece of evidence that should be remembered on this day is the occasion when he took a decision not to name a member of the then Opposition when, I think, in the opinion of his Liberal colleagues, that member of the Opposition had committed a cardinal sin and should have been named. Quite clearly, Billy Snedden took the view that it was not in the Parliament's or his Party's interest to name that person. He did not do so and he survived that decision. He survived the decision primarily because he had that huge prestige amongst his colleagues in general. They knew that he deserved to retain his job and they as a party were not prepared in any way to bully their Speaker once he had taken that decision.

In truth, Bill Snedden had the respect of his Party and he had respect for his Party. He will go down as a great Speaker. For various reasons, I have had cause to research his decisions. You, Madam Speaker, may remember a time when you were in opposition and he stood and declared in your interest and made a Minister sit down. He was that type of Speaker. It is no wonder that he was so highly regarded. I am sure Australia has lost a great citizen.