The Courier-Mail

TAKING A MIDDLE ROAD

- STEVEN SCOTT

NEW Speaker Tony Smith has vowed to exclude himself from Liberal partyroom meetings in an attempt to distance himself from Bronwyn Bishop.

But the demise of Ms Bishop has sparked new tensions in the Government, with Education Minister Christophe­r Pyne declaring she had been “felled in most unfair circumstan­ces”. The former Speaker took up a seat on the backbench and watched stony-faced as her replacemen­t was sworn in.

As MPs rose to applaud Mr Smith, Ms Bishop stood but did not clap.

In a bid to rebuild public trust in Parliament, Mr Smith suggested he would be less partisan when he begins overseeing Question Time from today.

“I will not be attending weekly party meetings,” Mr Smith told Parliament.

“It’s my view that the Speaker should not only be, but also should be seen to be, independen­t of the partisan day-to-day fray.”

His comments were a clear attempt to distance himself from Ms Bishop’s style. Some in the Liberal Party fear that her overt bias gave the Opposition ammunition.

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