New speaker’s values set to raise tone of debate in parliament

By Dan Holmes

July 27, 2022

Milton Dick
Speaker of the house Milton Dick. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Milton Dick has been elected house of representatives speaker, beating the Coalition’s nominee and former speaker Andrew Wallace by 92 votes to 56.

“The people of Australia sent a very clear message on how they expect politics to be conducted,” Dick said after being ceremonially dragged to the speaker’s chair.

The role of speaker of the house has never been so important. The previous term saw the release of the Jenkins Review, which highlighted Parliament House’s toxic workplace culture and some of the most cynical sessions of parliament since the Hawke-Keating era. 

Dick will be at the coalface of setting the standards of behaviour in the new parliament, with the country watching to see how the Labor government will seek to raise standards in the public service. 

The Queensland MP has a strong record of calling for better public debate, and used his maiden speech in 2016, to extol the virtues of a multicultural Australia, calling for greater civility from politicians. 

“I believe this parliament has an obligation to help raise the tone of our debate and talk with the hope and optimism deserving of our great nation – not just in this place but in the public conversations we help to lead,” he said.

“The truth is: Australia has and always will be at its best when everyone is pulling in the same direction. It is up to us to make that happen.”

While the ALP’s rules automatically expel members for crossing the floor, Dick has shown a willingness to reach across the aisle. He was one of three Labor MPs who joined Craig Kelly’s ‘Friends of Coal’ group, in 2019, and has been an outspoken supporter of the mining sector on the Labor backbench. 

Milton Dick was elected the Member for Oxley after the retirement of the serving member Bernie Ripoll in 2016.

Before his election to federal parliament, he was a Brisbane City councillor and Queensland Labor state secretary, where he was mentored by former senate president John Hogg. Like Dick, Hogg was a member of Labor’s right faction, and was generally viewed as fair.


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