This is the text of a media statement from Simon Crean, Leader of the Opposition:
An Independent Speaker: The PM’s Comments
In 1996 when John Howard was elected Prime Minister, he said:
- You will never have a completely independent Speaker in this country unless the Opposition is prepared to come halfway and commit itself to not opposing the Speaker at a subsequent election.
– (John Howard, ABC AM, Tuesday 2nd April 1996)
Prior to the election, he promised:
- I will have an independent Speaker, and the great weakness in Parliament over the last few years is that we have not had an effectively independent Speaker. You have had a Speaker who has not been truly independent of the Labor Party and if I become Prime Minister, I will adopt a system of having a completely independent Speaker who can be just as tough on me and my Ministers.
– (John Howard, The Great Debate, Tuesday 25th February 1996)
Last week I wrote to the Prime Minister proposing a range of reforms to the Parliament, including a truly independent Speaker, drawn alternately from Labor and the Coalition regardless of who is in power. The Speaker would by agreement hold the position for two terms of the Parliament.
I look forward to working with the Prime Minister to help restore community confidence in our Federal Parliament.