Speaker retires to chorus of high praise

·1-min read

It was the end of an era in the House of Representatives on Monday as the Speaker retired from his role with a chorus of bipartisan praise.

Liberal MP Tony Smith has been Speaker for the past six years and three months having been elected unopposed three times.

The last time this happened was in 1909.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese agreed Mr Smith had set a high bar for the speakers who will follow him.

They praised his guidance through the pandemic which allowed parliament to keep sitting despite restrictions.

"A good Speaker is a bit like a good referee; you don't want to watch them, you want to watch the play," Mr Albanese said.

Mr Morrison said Mr Smith was the longest-serving Speaker of his generation and the finest parliament has had.

He said Mr Smith had earned the respect of both sides of the chamber with his meticulous attention to detail and understanding of the role.

"This role has not been a place from which you have sought to lord over this chamber," he said.

"You have engaged in this chamber as one of equals."

Mr Smith thanked both sides of parliament for their support during his time as Speaker.

"Being a friend with someone who holds a different political view does not mean you dilute your own political values," he said.

"I have at all times sought to operate fairly, consistently and predictably."

Mr Smith will take his place on the government backbench until his retirement at next year's election.

He is expected to be replaced by either Queensland LNP MP Andrew Wallace or former minister Kevin Andrews in a vote on Tuesday.

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