Fed Speaker Tony Smith to retire at poll

·2-min read

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith will retire at the next federal election.

Mr Smith, who represents the Victorian seat of Casey, was first elected 20 years ago this November.

"I love our parliament and serving the Australian people," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"However, I believe now is a good time to give the Liberal Party and the people of Casey the opportunity for renewal."

When elected to the speakership in 2015, Mr Smith promised to allow "robust" debate in parliament, but warned MPs to be better behaved.

"Parliament is a robust place ... it is the arena for the battle of ideas and ideals," he said.

"But it needn't be rude and it needn't be loud - that is something I'd like to see improved."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Smith had been an outstanding Speaker.

"Tony Smith's intellect, temperament, dry wit, staying above the fray and respect for the parliament as an institution, has earned him respect, far and wide," Mr Morrison said.

"Many Speakers can get caught in the crossfire of parliamentary debate. Instead, his actions have elevated debate and demonstrated the great strength of parliamentary democracy."

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke said Mr Smith's departure would be a huge loss.

"He's one of the only Speakers in history to have been nominated by the government and seconded by the opposition," Mr Burke told AAP.

"He's been consistent, principled, and most importantly fearless.

"It doesn't matter whether you're an opposition backbencher or the prime minister of Australia - he has been willing to stand firm to make sure the parliament is not undermined."

Mr Burke said while Mr Morrison had "trashed" parliament and shut it down, Mr Smith had sought to enhance its role and standing.

Mr Smith replaced Bronwyn Bishop, who resigned over an expenses scandal, becoming the 30th Speaker and the fifth since 2011.

Mr Smith was educated at Carey Baptist Grammar School and the University of Melbourne, where he studied arts and commerce while working as a night shift cook at an all-night restaurant and throwing himself into student politics.

He became president of the university's Liberal Club and a strong opponent of compulsory student unionism.

After university, he became a researcher at the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, before joining the staff of Peter Costello in 1990.

He transitioned from staff member to MP in 2001, when he was elected to the moderately safe seat of Casey.

The parliament's other presiding officer, Senate President Scott Ryan, has previously signalled he will also retire at the next election.

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