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Do it the British way

Bolton, G. (2002) Do it the British way. The Australian, 12 February 2002 . p. 11.


By contrast, the Speaker of the British House of Commons is unopposed at elections and keeps the position until ready to retire. Both as spokesman of the house and as steward of parliamentary conduct, the Speaker at Westminster carries much more authority than their Canberra counterpart. Traditionally, the Speaker was the voice of the Commons opposing autocratic monarchs and championing free speech.

In the first commonwealth parliament Frederick Holder, a South Australian ex-premier, became Speaker. He held the post through several changes of government until a particularly stormy session in July 1909, when he collapsed with a murmur of "Dreadful, dreadful" and died a few hours later. His deputy was a Labor man, Charles McDonald, but prime minister Alfred Deakin passed McDonald over for Speaker in favour of one of his own henchmen, Charles Carty Salmon. When Labor came to power a few months later, it dumped Salmon in favour of McDonald.

Since that time the independence of the Speaker has waned. Labor Speaker Jim Cope had to resign in February 1975 when he tried to discipline cabinet minister Clyde Cameron and the Whitlam government used its numbers to overrule him. John Howard's first Speaker, Bob Halverson, resigned in 1998 when his rulings were not supported. Now it is [NEIL Andrew]'s turn.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: News Limited
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