SURVIVAL OF Bishop gets kiss of death as Lib heavies secure new Speaker
FRONTBENCH heavyweights Andrew Robb and leadership aspirant Scott Morrison used their political influence to parachute Liberal moderate Tony Smith into the Speaker’s job.
The secret ballot that elected Mr Smith to the $341,000a-year job was in part the result of a strong campaign led by the pair and fellow Victorian and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer.
In the end, Ms O’Dwyer’s boss, Joe Hockey, voted for South Australia’s Andrew Southcott.
Two different sources claimed Tony Abbott voted for loser Russell Broadbent, who decisively lost to Mr Smith 51 votes to 22, but another said he voted for the winner.
“It was clear Smith had the numbers. Why would the PM vote for the loser?” A source said yesterday.
A spokesman for Mr Abbott would not reveal who the PM supported.
The Victorians have always believed they should have more senior ministries and once advocated dumping Deputy Leader Julie Bishop for Mr Robb, a former Liberal Party federal director.
The Prime Minister said on Sunday that he had just one vote in the partyroom.
The role played by Mr Morrison, the Social Services Minister and a NSW moderate – who is gunning for Mr Abbott’s or Mr Hockey’s job – is further entrenching his powerbase in the Liberal Party.
Ms O’Dwyer, who worked with Mr Smith in the office of former treasurer Peter Costello, is understood to have phoned colleagues asking them to get behind him.
Mr Smith was vocal in the Liberal Party when then-leader Malcolm Turnbull intended to do a deal with the Rudd government on an emissions trading scheme.
Mr Robb, also strongly against the planned deal, helped roll Mr Turnbull over climate-change divisions.
The Courier-Mail was told yesterday some Coalition MPs still blamed Mr Smith for helping lose the 2010 election with an ordinary performance as opposition communications spokesman. A post-mortem of the election loss by the Liberals suggested the seat of Bass in Tasmania would have been won if there had been a proper National Broadband Network plan.
Chief Government Whip and Queensland’s Scott Buchholz said Queenslander Ross Vasta lost the numbers first, followed by Mr Southcott.
Former attorney-general Phillip Ruddock didn’t stand.
Mr Buchholz said there were no speeches in the partyroom and people were told to stand in their chair if they wanted to nominate.
SMITH HAD THE NUMBERS. WOULD THE PM VOTE FOR THE LOSER? Party room source
“It might have been Tony Smith’s qualities that they took comfort in,” Mr Buchholz said.
“It could have simply been him saying he would not sit in the partyroom. I don’t recall any others making that commitment.
“He is an exemplary speaker on a range of bills, mostly financial. He is well-respected and measured and very rarely goes out in uncontrolled rants.”
He is the fifth Speaker since 2011.
After the vote, Victorian Michael Sukkar nominated Mr Smith for the role. It was seconded by NSW’s Lucy Wicks.
“Anyone who knows Tony knows he’s an absolute revhead, and he’s a Holden man