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Tuesday, 27 February 1973
Page: 8

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - The practice of this Parliament is to select the Speaker from the party which has the majority of members in the House. In recent years there has been a practice in which the nominee of the majority Party has been opposed from the other side of the House. We did not adopt that course on this occasion, as is apparent to everybody. You, Mr Speaker, have not exercised the office, we have no way in which we can judge your performance in office and we do not know how you will conduct it. We know that you have served long in this Parliament; we know that you know the volatility of this House; we know your own periodic bad temper; and we know your ever ready flow of wit. Indeed, I took your first utterance as wit when you found it necessary to tell the Parliament that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was not right'. 1 hope that will be seen as a happy augury of impartiality. We on this side of the House will co-operate. We will not interject while you are speaking, provided that you do not speak for too long. We will be courteous at all times, provided that you do not provoke us. Further, we will be parliamentarians at all times, no matter what the circumstances. From you, Mr Speaker, we expect objectivity, fairness and a recognition of the centuries old convention which established the office of Speaker as one of impartiality, representing the whole of the Parliament - not any part of it, any section of it or any party within it.

Mr Speaker,you have been elected by all members of the House of Representatives. The decision today was unanimous. I hope that in your position you will retain the unanimous support of all members of the House of Representatives in the period that you occupy the office of Speaker - and I hope that that will not be very long. You have seen a great many occasions when interjections have occurred. You have participated a great deal in those interjections. As the Prime Minister has said, very often you have restored the temper of this House. I hope that you will be able to retain your sense of fun and make it consistent with your conduct of the House. We will do all that we can to assist you. We wish you well in the conduct of the Speakership which is a most high office.

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