By Parker McKenzie
Tony Smith has stepped down as Speaker of the House of Representatives in federal parliament.
The Liberal Member for Casey was elected to the position unopposed three times and is highly respected by both Coalition and Labor politicians.
Mr Smith gave his final speech in Parliament as Speaker on Monday 22 November.
“Just over six years and three months ago I had the honour of being elected the 30th Speaker of this house of representatives,” Mr Smith said.
“As you know from my announcement last time we sat, today will be my last day in the chair before I rejoin you on the floor as the government member for Casey.”
He thanked several politicians in parliament including the treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Leader of the House Peter Dutton.
“Can I say to all to you that being a friend with someone who has different political views to you doesn’t mean you dilute your political values.” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith will sit on the backbench before retiring as Member of Casey at the next federal election.
“Of course today is my last sitting day, tomorrow morning I will visit the governor general to tender my resignation first thing in the morning,” he said.
“Thank you, I’ll see you on the floor tomorrow.”
The division of Casey covers the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne and parts of the Yarra Ranges.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Smith was “the finest speaker this house has had.”
“Mr Speaker you have demonstrated that any member in this place can make a difference,” Mr Morrison said.
“You have sought through your carriage of that important chair everything you’ve been able to do to facilitate members to make that contribution.”
Mr Smith was elected to the House of Representatives in 2001. The Liberal Party has selected Melbourne businessman and former political staffer Aaron Violi to replace him as the party’s candidate for the seat of Casey.
The federal government will put forward Andrew Wallace to replace Smith and become the 31st Speaker of the House on Tuesday 23 November.