News State Tasmania Vic parliament suspended amid Speaker resign calls
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Vic parliament suspended amid Speaker resign calls

Ken Smith
ABC
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The Victorian parliament has again been suspended amid repeated opposition demands for Speaker Ken Smith to resign.

Opposition members said Mr Smith had lost the support of the majority of the parliament and his position was no longer tenable.

They accused him of being a biased puppet for the government and said his occupation of the chair was a travesty of democracy.

The house erupted into uproar when Mr Smith repeatedly refused permission for opposition questions to be asked, with the Speaker eventually suspending the house temporarily.

Tuesday’s suspension comes after Mr Smith suspended the parliament for two weeks earlier this month when Labor MPs again tried to move against him.

During the last sitting independent MP Geoff Shaw, who holds the balance of power in the lower house, sided with Labor to stall government business and express no confidence in the Speaker.

Mr Shaw reiterated that he no longer supported the Speaker in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

Question time began with leader of opposition business Jacinta Allan telling parliament that Mr Smith’s position was untenable and that a notice of motion had been circulated calling for him to explain why he continues to occupy the position.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews also said Mr Smith’s position was untenable and he should resign.

He said there could be no more serious breach of the rules than the Speaker occupying the chair without a majority.

Senior Labor MP Tim Pallas accused Mr Smith of being a puppet for an arrogant government.

He said the business of parliament could not continue to be conducted while it was presided over by a biased speaker.

“This is a travesty of democracy,” he told the parliament.

“You are an embarrassment and you should resign immediately.”

But government MPs said parliamentary rules prevented the questions that the opposition wanted to ask from being asked.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the questions were outside the standing orders and if the Speaker was to answer the question he would be in breach of them.

Mr Smith repeatedly refused Labor MPs permission to ask the questions.

The parliament descended into uproar on several occasions and after a long period of shouting the Speaker suspended the house for 30 minutes.

As parliament resumed, Mr Smith said MPs should be aware that while he had been the Speaker of the parliament he had uphold the law to a tee.

He again refused Ms Allan’s point of order.

As Ms Allan continued to ask a question, Mr Smith called her behaviour disgusting and disgraceful.

Mr Shaw stood up to silence, saying the house needed to have some dignity and so far that had not happened.

“Can you take control back of the house,” he told the Speaker.

Premier Denis Napthine said the Speaker had shown tremendous patience amid an organised stunt by the opposition.

He said the Labor Party knows it is contradicting the standing orders.

Labor MPs shouted as Dr Napthine spoke.

Mr Andrews said the premier’s comments had shown that Mr Smith was his speaker.

After Ms Allan repeatedly asked questions, Mr Smith suspended her from parliament for six sitting days.

Leader of government business Louise Asher had nominated the suspension period, which was carried after Mr Smith cast the deciding vote. Mr Shaw was not present in the house.

Deputy Opposition Leader James Merlino was also suspended for six days.