House Speaker faces first Question Time

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The new Speaker of the House of Representatives Andrew Wallace has presided over his first Question Time where members on both sides put his adjudication to the test.

Mr Wallace asked members not to interject multiple times, but stopped short of using his powers to remove a disorderly member from the chamber for one hour, known as standing order 94a.

He said he did not want to have to use 94a on his first day and asked members to restrain themselves.

The opposition questioned many of the Speaker's rulings during Question Time, with opposition business manager Tony Burke saying one decision represented a significant shift from former Speaker Tony Smith.

Mr Wallace received the endorsement of party colleagues on Tuesday and parliament formalised his new role as the 31st Speaker since Federation.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser said Mr Wallace was known as being firm but fair while chairing parliamentary committees.

"I believe (Mr Wallace) will lead this house with dignity, good humour and distinction," he said.

In a ballot Mr Wallace defeated Labor nominee Victorian MP Rob Mitchell 70 votes to 59.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese told Mr Wallace he respected the decision to elect him.

"You will have time to demonstrate the qualities your party have nominated you on," he said.

Mr Wallace replaces Mr Smith, who is going to the government backbench after more than six years in the role.

Mr Smith, considered one of the best Speakers of modern times, will retire from his Victorian seat of Casey at the election due by May.

Despite his long stint in the position, Mr Smith said he wouldn't tell his successor how to carry out the role.

"They've got to bring their own personality and approach to the job," he told ABC Radio Melbourne on Tuesday, ahead of the election of his replacement.

"You don't want to sort of tell future speakers what to do, they need time."

Mr Wallace, a former construction lawyer based on the Sunshine Coast, was first elected to parliament in 2016 in the seat of Fisher and was re-elected in 2019.

As a member of the speakers panel in parliament, he has regularly sat in the umpire's chair and presided over debates.

The last Queenslander in the role was Peter Slipper in 2012.

Talking following his last stint in the chair, Mr Smith said he was humbled by the tributes from his parliamentary colleagues.

"It was instinctive in a role as Speaker you need to be impartial, you need to give everybody a fair go, and your responsibility is to make sure the House runs as best it can," he said.

"I've never had anyone say to me 'Look, you've got to stop doing what you're doing', but I've certainly had members from both the government and opposition at times query why I'm taking a certain course of action.

"I think I've tried to be consistent and predictable - at least members know where you're coming from."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting