By Casey Neill
Casey MP Tony Smith was returned unopposed for a third time as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Labor MP Tony Burke said the only other speaker to achieve this was Australia’s first, Frederick Holder.
He was among several MPs from all sides of politics to heap praise on Mr Smith when parliament returned for the first time since the 18 May Federal Election, on 2 July.
Mr Smith said it was an honour and a humbling experience to again take on the role, which involves chairing meetings, staffing the house, and interacting with the Senate, Governor-General and others.
Liberal Robertson MP Lucy Wicks moved that Mr Smith return as speaker, with ALP Calwell MP Maria Vamvakinou seconding the motion.
Ms Wicks said Mr Smith was a friend to her and many other MPs he’d been fearless and impartial with his rulings.
“He is able to balance the robust nature of debate in this House with the dignity and respect for our parliamentary traditions, while still bringing his quick wit and personality to this place,” she said.
She said Mr Smith “embodies the dignity of this office and the rich heritage of this place”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all House of Representatives members respected Mr Smith.
“You have a wise and calming presence in this place,” he said.
“The normal passions and the heat of the debate that occurs in this place you accept and you celebrate, but at the same time you temper us in those times when, of course, there is overreach.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he was pleased to see Mr Smith back in control of the house.
“You are as fair and impartial a Speaker on either side of politics as I’ve seen in my more than two decades in this House,” he said.
“The fact that you’ve been nominated by the government side and seconded by the opposition side is to your credit.”
Mr Albanese said Mr Smith helped the house to focus on outcomes and on what united MPs.
“You also lead the parliament in terms of the officers, the clerks and all who work to make this institution operate on a day-to-day basis, and you do that in a way which has always been consultative,” he said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles said Mr Smith had blossomed in the role “to become one of the really great Speakers that this nation has seen”.
Independent MP Bob Katter said Mr Smith recognised “that there are other elements in this parliament except those on your left and those on your right—that we are people up here—and we deeply appreciate that”.