‘Now is a good time’: Federal Speaker of the House Tony Smith to retire at poll

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Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith will retire at the next federal election.

Smith, who represents the Victorian seat of Casey, was first elected 20 years ago this November.

“I love our parliament and serving the Australian people,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“However, I believe now is a good time to give the Liberal Party and the people of Casey the opportunity for renewal.”

When elected to the speakership in 2015, Smith promised to allow “robust” debate in parliament, but warned MPs to be better behaved.

“Parliament is a robust place … it is the arena for the battle of ideas and ideals,” he said.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith will retire at the next federal election. Credit: AAP

“But it needn’t be rude and it needn’t be loud – that is something I’d like to see improved.”

He replaced Bronwyn Bishop who resigned over an expenses scandal, becoming the 30th Speaker and the fifth since 2011.

Anecdotally, he is considered one of the most even-handed umpires the parliament has seen, not being afraid to sit down ministers if they stray from Question Time rules.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Speaker Tony Smith during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, September 12, 2018.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Speaker Tony Smith during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, September 12, 2018. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Smith was educated at Carey Baptist Grammar School and the University of Melbourne, where he studied arts and commerce while working as a night shift cook at an all-night restaurant and throwing himself into student politics.

He became president of the university’s Liberal Club and a strong opponent of compulsory student unionism.

After university, he became a researcher at the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, before joining the staff of Peter Costello in 1990.

He transitioned from staff member to MP in 2001, when he was elected to the moderately safe seat of Casey.

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