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Howard Discusses How The Liberal Party Chooses A Speaker

The Prime Minister, John Howard, in an interview on radio 5DN in Adelaide with Jermey Cordeaux, has spoken of the manner in which a new Speaker of the House of Representatives will be chosen.

HowardHoward argued that the Speaker’s position was the one job that was decided by the party-room. He claimed that he was satisfied with being able to choose the ministry, the Senate leadership and the party Whips, but that he had only one vote in the party-room for the Speaker’s position.

It is clear from Howard’s remarks that the incumbent Speaker, Neil Andrew, will not be renominated for the job when Parliament resumes next February.

The dumped minister, Bronwyn Bishop, has ruled herself out of contention. A name frequently touted now is that of Bruce Baird, the member for Cook in NSW. David Hawker, the member for Wannon in Victoria, the seat formerly held by Malcolm Fraser, has also put his name forward.

This is the extract from the Howard interview:

Prime Minister John Howard’s interview with Jeremy Cordeaux on 5DN Adelaide.

CORDEAUX: Speaking of selection process, how close did Bronwyn Bishop get to the Speaker’s job?

PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s a matter for my colleagues. I choose the ministry and I name the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and I choose the Whips and all the other positions but traditionally the Coalition candidate for Speaker and the Coalition candidate for Deputy Speaker have been chosen by a vote of the party room.

While I have a vote along with everybody else and if somebody privately wants to know my opinion I’ll talk to them, I don’t think it’s my role to go out and put my hand on somebody’s shoulder, it’s something that the party room regards as its own decision, I respect that, they allow me to choose everything else and I do that and I have to make decisions and I’m quite happy to carry that responsibility.

But when it comes to the candidate for Speaker it really is a matter for the party room and anybody can nominate. Neil Andrew has told me he’s going to nominate again, I have not been told that anybody else is nominating but that may change, I just don’t know.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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