The West

Newly elected Speaker Anna Burke hopes to serve federal parliament with distinction after becoming Australia’s second female speaker.

“I am truly speechless,” she told the chamber after being elected to the position on tonight, following Peter Slipper’s decision to resign.

“Thank you very much for this honour. I look forward to serving the House well and with distinction.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulated the Victorian Labor MP for the seat of Chisholm, noting the twists and turns that had lead to her election.

“You have always been a very hard-working, very focused, very diligent member of this parliament,” she said.

Ms Burke is the second female Speaker of the House of Representatives after Labor’s Joan Child, who served between 1986 and 1989.

Ms Gillard said Ms Child was a trailblazer and Ms Burke would also be a role model for young women considering a career in politics.

Ms Burke was nominated by Labor MPs Kirsten Livermore and Kelvin Thomson and elected unopposed.

“I will draw upon the great legacy of Joan Child who was the first female speaker in this House,” Ms Burke said after she took the Speaker’s chair.

She also paid tribute to Mr Slipper, saying he had acted with dignity and impartiality.

“I do want to accord my many thanks to him for how he conducted himself in this chamber and for how he always treated myself and my staff with the utmost respect,” Ms Burke said.

She also also thanked her husband Steve and two children, and extended family, and apologised for the “further impost” she was now about to put on them by taking on the higher role.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the current parliament had set a new record.

“It is remarkable in this sense that this is the first parliament in the history of the commonwealth to have had three speakers in the life of a single parliament,” he told the house.

But Mr Abbott said Ms Burke had served “very competently” as deputy and acting speaker.

“I am confident you will discharge your duties faithfully and honorably for the duration of this parliament,” he said.

Other MPs lined up to welcome Ms Burke to role, including Leader of the House Anthony Albanese, Nationals leader Warren Truss, and manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne.

Mr Pyne reminded Ms Burke he had nominated her as Speaker 11 months ago, following the resignation of Labor’s Harry Jenkins.

“The tumult that has gripped the House for the last 11 months, particularly the last six months, could all have been avoided if the Labor Party had accepted my nomination of you as Speaker,” he said.

“It’s 11 months late, but not too late for you to make an indelible imprint on the parliament.”

Bruce Scott was elected to the deputy position after he and Steve Georganas were nominated for the role.

Mr Scott got 74 votes to Mr Georganas’ 70.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she didn’t always agree with Mr Scott but noted he was a true gentleman of the parliament.

“I’m sure that he will serve in this role with distinction,” she said.

“We welcome his election ... and we look forward to working with him.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said winning the ballot was testimony to Mr Scott’s qualities as a man and as a member of parliament.

The West Australian

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