Tuesday, 20 December 2022






Mary-Anne THOMAS (Macedon – Leader of the House, Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Medical Research) (11:30): I propose the member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, to take the Speaker’s chair. The member for Bendigo West has already demonstrated her ability to perform the role with aplomb. She is known as a person who always acts with integrity and who is firm but fair in her dealings with all members of the house. I move:

That the member for Bendigo West take the chair of this house as Speaker.

Chris COUZENS (Geelong) (11:31): I second the motion.

The Clerk: Does the member for Bendigo West accept the nomination?

Maree EDWARDS (Bendigo West) (11:31): I am honoured to accept the nomination.

The Clerk declared the honourable member for Bendigo West duly elected as Speaker.

Maree Edwards conducted to the chair by proposer and seconder.

The SPEAKER (11:32): I express my sincere thanks to the house for the great honour conferred on me by electing me as Speaker.

Daniel ANDREWS (Mulgrave – Premier) (11:33): Speaker, it is a great honour on behalf of the parliamentary Labor Party and the government to be here in such strong numbers and, on behalf of all my colleagues, to congratulate you on your elevation to such high office. As my honourable friend the Leader of the House just noted, your service to this place, firstly and with a great sense of pride as the member for Bendigo West, is well understood by all of us. It is deeply respected. Your passion, your commitment not just to your local community but to regional communities right across our state, your leadership in so many areas of policy and, most notably – I have made this point before, but I think it bears repeating – your constant advocacy, the fact that you are a champion for families of kids with special needs, children with disability, is well known, well understood and, I know, deeply appreciated by those families and deeply appreciated by me and all of our colleagues. We are so pleased – thrilled in fact – to think that a person of such character, such conviction and such courage in the pursuit of the values that you live large has been chosen by this Parliament to again fulfil the role of Speaker. It is a great honour, and on behalf of the government and members of the parliamentary Labor Party we commit to, as best we can, make the exercise of your considerable responsibilities as smooth as possible. To you, your staff and your family I say: well done. Be proud. We are certainly proud of you.

John PESUTTO (Hawthorn – Leader of the Opposition) (11:35): Speaker, congratulations on behalf of the opposition. I should say it has been some time since you and I last spoke in this place. I had to pop out for a bit, but being back, I am delighted to offer our congratulations to you.

I think this is a very solemn time. The role of Speaker in parliaments down the ages has been a critical one, and in terms of the deliberations of this house and the work of this Parliament, your role will be vital to that. On days like today, when we see so many young people in the gallery and so many young people in Queen’s Hall and so many young people are watching online and will read the deliberations of the work of this house, it will be incumbent on all of us under your leadership to ensure that the debates and those deliberations do them proud and encourage them to seek public office in the years ahead. I hope also those deliberations and the work of this house can demonstrate to all of those, young and old – everybody watching – that the role of Parliament is not only to undertake its own work but to serve as one of the critical branches of government and that it can do the work it needs to do where accountability is required and where scrutiny is required as well. We know that democracies flourish and the people’s confidence in people who occupy public office is improved and enhanced when the work of Parliament can be allowed to take its course. I know under your leadership, with our full support and I think the support of this entire chamber, we will be able to do the people watching us proud and show that Parliament can apply that role of scrutiny and can exact the accountability that the public needs and that working together all branches of government can come together and do the people’s work proudly. I know on behalf of my colleagues that you are going to do a great job in that. You will have our full support in that, and I join with the Premier in offering our warmest congratulations. Well done.

The SPEAKER (11:37): Can I, with the indulgence of the house, make a few comments. Can I thank the Minister for Health and the member for Geelong for their nomination and the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition for their kind words.

First, congratulations to all the newly elected members and to those who have been returned to their electorates. Being a candidate for election is a huge commitment. Election campaigns are long and sometimes arduous. Being elected to represent your constituents for the next four years is a momentous achievement and one that I am sure all members will commit to fulfilling to the best of their abilities. I hope that by the end of this term you will leave this place with a sense of achievement, knowing that you have learned a great deal and have had at the forefront your electorates and the people you represent.

Thank you also to members for their support of my nomination and for electing me to be Speaker of this, the 60th Parliament. It is a great honour to be elected as a member of Parliament and just as great an honour and privilege to be elected as Speaker. When I was elected Speaker for the last few weeks of the 59th Parliament I mentioned that I was only the fourth woman to be Speaker in the long history of this place. In acknowledging that history I am also thrilled to be the first woman re-elected as Speaker.

For a girl who grew up in Maryborough in regional Victoria on a bush block, who walked several kilometres to school every day with holes in her shoes, a girl whose parents worked hard in factories of the town to support me and my four siblings, and where sport was the centre of my world, I never dreamed of being a member of Parliament, let alone Speaker. I hope I have made my family and my home town proud.

I want to also acknowledge that we have our first woman as Clerk of the Parliaments and our first woman as Usher of the Black Rod. Sally West will make history today as the first woman to knock on the door of this chamber this afternoon to escort us to the Legislative Council to hear the Governor’s speech. Congratulations, Bridget and Sally. It is also heartening to see so many women elected to this Parliament. I would like to acknowledge the clerks and all the staff across the Parliament, who have been preparing for the opening of this 60th Parliament for many weeks. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to enable today to be a success. Thank you so much.

To my four children, their partners, my two stepsons and soon to be nine grandchildren, you are my inspiration and the great loves of my life. Being Mum and Grandma brings the greatest joy and is something I treasure. Thank you to my husband Steve – your love and support mean so much – and to my extended family and friends. Thank you for always standing by me and being there when I need you.

I want to make a special mention of someone who has been a constant in my life. To my cousin Marg Lewis, a former member of the Legislative Council, thank you for everything you do to encourage me, to back me in and to help out when I need you. I am blessed to have wonderful people like you in my life.

Members know that our electorate office staff are vital to the work we do as members in our electorates. Their support and commitment to us and our constituencies are so very central to what we as members can achieve. To my electorate office staff – Martyn, Lynda, Pam and Sam – thank you so much for all that you do and for your ongoing support. I know I could not do what I do without you.

To the amazing communities across Bendigo West, I am truly humbled and honoured that I have been re-elected to represent you for another term. I am looking forward to representing you here again in this Parliament. As always, I am ready to listen, to work hard and to advocate for great outcomes.

Today marks the start of a new Parliament. This is a great opportunity to remind members of their responsibilities in this house and to encourage you all to focus on respectful engagement and debate. The smooth operation of this chamber is dependent on your cooperation, respect for the standing orders and respect for each other. I also encourage you to show respect for the Chair always and adhere to the rules of the house.

This is a workplace not just for members but for many staff. It is a good idea to get to know the staff who work across the precinct and to acknowledge and thank them for the work that they do. They are often called on to go above and beyond to ensure we can do our jobs effectively. I encourage you to always be mindful that what we do here in this workplace impacts on them, both the good and the bad. I am sure we all want this to be a workplace that is safe and enjoyable.

I am very conscious of the responsibility that comes with the role of Speaker and that integrity is so incredibly important. I am committed to upholding the expectations of the office. In saying that, I will always make time for members and my door will always be open. I look forward to catching up with you and getting to know our newest members outside of the chamber. I promise to serve with fairness and impartiality. Empathy goes a long way in this place, as does kindness. I hope to display both. Thank you so much.

The house will now proceed to the election of a Deputy Speaker.