Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith will retire at the next federal election.
Mr 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.”
Tony Smith leaving will be a huge loss to the parliament. He’s one of the only speakers in history to have been nominated by the government and seconded by the opposition. He’s been consistent, principled, and most importantly fearless.
— Tony Burke (@Tony_Burke) July 14, 2021
When elected to the speakership in 2015, Mr 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.
“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.
— Michelle Grattan (@michellegrattan) July 14, 2021
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.
Mr 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.
The retiring Tony Smith isn’t just a very fair Speaker, long before he took up that role he was a popular local MP. His marginal seat of Casey is well and truly in play at the next election without him…especially if Labor chooses a strong local candidate #auspol
— Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP) July 14, 2021
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.