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Australian House of Representatives - Deputy Speaker

by Catherine Cornish

Considering the contribution that the Speaker’s deputy has always made to the work of the House of Representatives, it is surprising that relatively little has been documented about the office since it was established in 1901. This scarcity may be explained by the low profile of the role itself and the tenure of most Members who have taken it up, whether as Chairman of Committees in the early days, or as Deputy Speaker.[1] Now the collected entries in the Biographical Dictionary of the House of Representatives will facilitate study of the work of individual deputies and their impact as a cohort.  

This essay refers to some of the challenges faced by individuals but focuses mostly on that collective aspect, outlining the purpose and evolution of the role. Along the way it notes the professional distinctions between those two senior officeholders of the House, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, and also makes some comparisons with arrangements in other parliaments.

The essay will seek to discern any defining features of the office as it outlines:

  • the role today, including its responsibilities and powers
  • the evolution of the role, including its original purpose and history
  • people who have held the role and some perennial issues
  • how the Deputy Speaker’s role and personal attributes might be characterised.

Throughout, the Deputy Speaker’s role is considered from two broad perspectives. First is the formal framework set by the House’s own rules, the standing orders (see note below) and their associated conventions. The second perspective is informal, focusing more on the people involved and the impact that the human element, including pragmatism, can have when combined with rules and conventions. The human element has had its impact from the very beginning, as John Chanter’s time as the first Chairman of Committees exemplifies.

Does a study of the whole reveal any ‘universal’ features that bind or divide the cohort neatly, such as a typical parliamentary career path or personal characteristics? Two features of the group are clear immediately, and these may have as much to do with social history and practicalities as with anything formal. A glance at the names (see table below) shows that, to date, thirty-three Members have served as Deputy Speaker or, the earlier incarnation, Chairman of Committees. With two exceptions—the Hon. Joan Child AO and Ms Anna Burke AO—all are men. This is despite the changing composition of the House over the last twenty years or so (see Parliamentary Library 2020, 578 for an analysis of the number of women in parliament).

The second striking feature of the group relates to traditional notions about a deputy’s role. A comparison of the names of Deputy Speakers with those of Speakers (see Elder 2018, Appendix 2) shows that making the transition from Deputy Speaker to Speaker is an unlikely prospect for members of the Liberal Party of Australia or The Nationals.[2] While those Speakers who did serve first as Deputy Speaker were most likely grateful for that preparation, their low numbers mean that the Deputy Speaker role cannot be characterised generally as part of a procedural career stream, creating a kind of apprentice or natural successor to the Speaker. This is different from the United Kingdom House of Commons, for example, where it is likely that the Speaker will have served as the Chairman of Ways and Means (the principal Deputy Speaker).

The role today
The following outline of the current functions and their associated rules will help place in context the later discussion of the role’s evolution and people.

Election, resignation, and in between
What is the formal foundation for the role? While the Constitution provides that the House will elect a Speaker before the ‘despatch of any other business’, it makes no mention of the Chairman of Committees, much less the Deputy Speaker. However, one part of the Deputy Speaker’s role is found in section 36: ‘Before or during any absence of the Speaker, the House of Representatives may choose a member to perform his duties in his absence.’

It is the House’s detailed internal rules, the standing orders, that provide a practical solution to the need for a deputy and they establish a remit that involves much more than acting for an absent Speaker. A Deputy Speaker is chosen by the House at the beginning of each parliament or when the office becomes vacant.[3] In a new parliament, the election is conducted after the Speaker has been elected and it determines the role of Second Deputy Speaker as well. If a government Member is elected as Deputy Speaker—and this would usually be the case even though it is not prescribed in the standing orders—only a non-government Member may be elected as Second Deputy Speaker.[4] When a Deputy Speaker wishes to resign from the office the path is similarly formal: he or she may make an announcement, or write to the Speaker who will make an announcement to the House and conduct the election of a successor.

Currently the role established through the standing orders and practice involves three main areas of responsibility and these are directed mostly towards the efficiency and continuity of House proceedings:

  • working as the Speaker’s deputy
  • taking specific responsibility for chairing the Federation Chamber[5]
  • serving as Acting Speaker in the Speaker’s absence.[6]

The Speaker’s deputy
Each sitting week the House sits for thirty-six hours and the Federation Chamber meets for up to nineteen and a half hours, making it essential to have systematic arrangements to assist the Speaker as Chair. This aspect of the Deputy Speaker’s role includes daily duty as the next most senior Chair to the Speaker in the Chamber, and as day-to-day manager of the Speaker’s panel of Chairs (the fourteen or so Members who take the Chair in the House and Federation Chamber). The Deputy Speaker, together with the Clerk, also assists the Speaker in the professional development of Speaker’s panel members. The Deputy Speaker also chairs the Liaison Committee of Chairs and Deputy Chairs, an informal group of the leaders of the parliamentary committees that are supported by the Department of the House of Representatives. The Liaison Committee first met in 1997 and currently meets several times each year to discuss current issues affecting the operations of committees, and to provide advice on these matters to the Speaker, through the Deputy Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker may also take on some administrative and advisory responsibilities at the Speaker’s request, but the overall scope of their responsibilities is very different from the Speaker’s. The Deputy Speaker would not usually take on a share of the whole range of that office’s responsibilities. Instead, their role is very procedural, focused on practical support for the Speaker’s leadership of the operations of the House.

Chairing and deciding the question
Along with members of the Speaker’s panel, the Deputy Speaker is likely to be rostered to take the Chair in the Chamber at any time during the sitting day except for question time, the most contentious time, and for the opening. In exceptional circumstances the Deputy Speaker might also chair at these times.[7] In the Chair, the Deputy Speaker has the same challenges and powers as the Speaker, including being able to exercise a casting vote (only), if the numbers in a division are equal.[8] The Deputy Speaker has the same obligation of impartiality as the Speaker (and any Chair), with the same rules to enforce, and the same challenges in doing that, including the potential to have his or her rulings dissented from.[9]

In the Speaker’s absence, the Deputy Speaker attends the House Selection Committee meetings where arrangements are made for business time in the House and Federation Chamber for committees, delegations, and private Members.[10] The Deputy Speaker is also an ex officio member of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories. Once elected to the office, Deputy Speakers usually relinquish their roles on other parliamentary committees, simply because of pressure of time.

A voice and a vote
When away from the Chair, the Deputy Speaker’s role is much less restricted than the Speaker’s. Whereas the Speaker’s voice is a guiding one, and their vote a deciding one—always for the whole House—the Deputy Speaker is much like any other Member in terms of participation. Although he or she will have a heavy commitment to the roster of the Speaker’s panel of Chairs, the Deputy Speaker may choose to speak in debates and would expect to vote in divisions in the same way as other Members can.  

The freedom enjoyed by the Deputy Speaker is not always enjoyed by colleagues with similar roles. In the Canadian House of Commons, the Deputy Speaker (chosen from a different party to the Speaker) generally avoids participating in debate but would usually vote when not presiding. The degree of participation in political activities, debate, and voting is considered a matter for the individual (Bosc and Gannon 2017, chapter 17). In the United Kingdom House of Commons, the Chairman of Ways and Means (the principal Deputy Speaker) is chosen from the opposite side of the House to the Speaker. Like the Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means does not become involved in party political matters. While the Chairman may occasionally speak on motions relating to private business, he or she would not ordinarily participate in debate or divisions (Natzler and Hutton 2019, 4.34). In the New Zealand House of Representatives the Deputy Speaker does not participate in debate as frequently as other Members. While it is considered a matter for the individual’s judgment about which debates to participate in, it is the ‘practice for a presiding officer not to speak in a debate over which he or she has been officiating’ (McGee 2017, 81–83).

Federation Chamber
The subordinate nature of the Federation Chamber in relation to the House is shown in the way it receives and disposes of business, and deals with disorder. At the same time, its significance to the work of the House is clear. Its existence has enabled the House to debate high volumes of legislation with fewer time restrictions on Members who wish to speak than was the case in the past, and it provides substantial opportunities for debate on committee and private Members’ business items each sitting week.[11] The opportunities provided to all Members through the operation of the Federation Chamber has much to do with the House’s status as a modern democratic institution.

In the House, the Deputy Speaker takes the Chair when asked by the Speaker and he or she exercises the same procedural powers as the Speaker, but their role is a more exclusive one in the Federation Chamber. There the Deputy Speaker is the Chair, sets the meeting times, and takes the same responsibility for maintaining order as the Speaker takes in the House.[12] The Deputy Speaker’s significance to the work of the Federation Chamber is clear in form and practice. He or she takes the Chair regularly and is also supported there by the Second Deputy Speaker and the Speaker’s panel.

In some ways the Federation Chamber has similarities with the committee of the whole, over which the Deputy Speaker’s predecessor, the Chairman of Committees, presided. Both were established as committees of the whole House to which all Members belong, intended to operate with fewer formalities and to consider a restricted range of business. There are also significant differences, including in the Speaker’s role: although the Speaker could always attend, debate and vote in the committee of the whole, the Speaker has only spoken once in the Federation Chamber.[13]

Acting Speaker
As Acting Speaker, the Deputy Speaker exercises the full scope of the Speaker’s role, including Commonwealth statutory powers and functions, as well as powers and responsibilities under the standing orders. In certain circumstances the Deputy Speaker may be deemed to be Speaker, to provide the necessary continuing administrative authority in the Speaker’s absence due to ill health, absence from the country, and so on.[14]

Second Deputy Speaker
The Second Deputy Speaker assists the Deputy Speaker in the Federation Chamber, takes the Chair in the House when requested, and acts as Speaker when the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are absent. If a government Member is elected as Deputy Speaker, only a non-government Member may be elected as Second Deputy Speaker (and vice versa).[15] The office was created in 1994 when the Federation Chamber was first established.

Evolution of the role
As is often the case with House roles and procedures, the Deputy Speaker’s role is a hybrid one, beginning in Westminster and then being adapted to meet current circumstances in the local environment. From 1610 on, the Speaker in the House of Commons would leave the House from time to time to enable it to consider matters of detail as it met as a committee of the whole House. Another Member would be chosen to preside as Chairman, and the Speaker’s absence was considered to enable greater freedom of discussion as well as greater consideration of detail.

In essence, the Chairman of Committees’ role in the House of Representatives was to preside during certain stages of the House’s operations. When the House met as the committee of the whole House it would consider the detail stage of bills and other matters that the House might refer to it. The Chairman presided over the committee of the whole House and, up to 1963, also presided over two committees that were crucial to financial legislation. The Committees of Supply (to consider proposed expenditure), and of Ways and Means (to consider proposed taxation measures, that is, the ways and means to raise supply), comprised all Members. When Ministers proposed measures, the committees would debate them and, once they were approved, the relevant bills were introduced to the House immediately.[16]

When the House met this way, the Speaker left the Chair (but may have stayed in the Chamber to speak and even vote), the Chairman moved to the Table with the Clerk and Deputy Clerk and proceedings were less formal. The Chairman’s powers to regulate the ‘conduct of business’ and preserve order were similar to the Speaker’s in the House. The Chairman had a casting vote only, could rule on points of order and interpret standing orders but, if disorder did occur, could not suspend a Member. Instead, he needed to name the Member and report to the House where the Speaker would preside over proceedings to suspend the Member.[17] The Chairman of Committees’ principal role was to preside at these stages of the House’s work, the relief role for the Speaker in the Chair at other times being much more incidental than today. The Chairman’s work was supported by Deputy Chairmen.

People who have held the office
The collected entries in the Biographical Dictionary of the House of Representatives show the diversity of those Members who have held the office of Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. All of them will have taken the Chair from time to time when the House has been engaged in robust debate. Most have had extensive experience as Chairs of parliamentary committees, and many will have served on the Speaker’s panel or as Temporary Chairmen of Committees. Many will have faced the challenges of chairing when the numbers in the House were evenly balanced, or the Government or Opposition adjusting to new roles. Those who have been in the role for many years will likely have had some extensive experience as Acting Speaker (for example, Chairman Lucock) and some will have had long periods in the Chair (for example, Deputy Speaker Burke). The early Chairmen did not have the benefit of lessons learnt by predecessors or a body of local precedents and authorities to guide them, although they would have had ready access to advice from the Speaker and assistance from the Clerk. Their individual experiences have all contributed to the evolution of the role.

The first role, first occupant, and first major challenge
The House of Representatives first met on 9 May 1901 and elected Speaker Holder that day. Over the next few sitting days, the House debated the proposed Address in Reply to the Governor-General’s speech on the opening. The first Chairman of Committees, John Moore Chanter, was elected, unopposed, on 5 June 1901 as the House prepared to consider legislation the following day.

The Member who moved the motion, James McColl, referred to Mr Chanter’s sixteen years’ experience in the New South Wales parliament, his familiarity with the forms of the Assembly, and experience as a Minister. McColl said of this new role, ‘Of course, in a Chairman of Committees we do not require a man versed in constitutional law so much as a man of good business capacity, tact, and good nature, combined with the necessary firmness to push through the business’ (H.R. Deb. 5.6.1901, 745). Mr Chanter, a former farmer and auctioneer, had been aligned with many parties and was to be aligned with more in the future. He acknowledged the honour and pledged to act impartially always (H.R. Deb. 5.6.1901, 746).

As it happened, he was to quickly gain some familiarity with constitutional law. In November 1901 he presided over the Committee of Ways and Means as Members considered the first tariff proposal and, following a protracted debate, he allowed a backbench Member to propose an increase to the rate of duty on an item. The relevant standing order at the time was not absolutely clear and the Chairman sought guidance from United Kingdom authorities as well as experiences in State parliaments before explaining his own views on the impact of the constitutional provisions and the standing order. To some people (then and now) his decision enabled an unwarranted interference with the financial initiative of the Executive, the constitutional and parliamentary principle that only the Government may initiate or move to increase appropriations or taxes. For others (then and now) it was a simple acknowledgment of the rights of all Members of the House and its direct effect was on a preliminary proposal, not a bill.

As Chairman he reported back to the House and referred to a point of order that had been made in the Committee on his ruling (H.R. Deb. 12.11.1901, 7136). Speaker Holder made a statement revealing his own extensive reflection on the matter, noting that while he ultimately supported the ruling: ‘I am bound to decide that the Chairman has correctly determined the practice in this House … I may say I should have been better pleased to have decided the other way …’ (H.R. Deb. 12.11.1901, 7139; VP 1901–3/237). The Member withdrew the amendment but the course had been set and the ruling remained until 1927.

Overall Chairman Chanter served for some nine years. This probably confirms the opinion of his tact and good nature, and some ease in maintaining an impartial stance. His proposer had also indicated a regard for his parliamentary experience and familiarity with procedure. Similar remarks about useful personal and professional attributes might be made today when a Member is proposing another Member for the role.

The more things change
Chairman Chanter’s ruling came under challenge from time to time and in 1927 another Chairman of Committees, James Bayley, overturned it in the Committee of Ways and Means. He would not accept a private Member’s proposed amendment (to a Minister’s amendment) to a tariff: ‘I decline to accept the amendment, on the ground that to do so would increase the amount of money received under the tax’ (H.R. Deb. 14.12.1927, 3204). During a long debate in which the arguments advanced for and against the Chanter ruling of 1901 were reprised, Chairman Bayley acknowledged his concerns for Members’ rights and privileges, citing the relevant standing order that was by now more explicit, and House authorities as well as those from the United Kingdom. He confirmed his ruling and this time there was no informal appeal to the Speaker by way of a late point of order. A formal motion of dissent was defeated easily (VP 1926–27/481) and there do not appear to have been appeals to the Speaker.

Those exchanges in 1901 and 1927 were based on the detail of processes that are now long gone. The very nature of the role of Chairman of Committees and the immaturity of House processes meant those early Chairmen were unfortunately bound to encounter significant constitutional and procedural challenges. Deputy Speakers today are unlikely to be in the Chair when constitutional issues are considered by the House. Nevertheless, the issues of those early days and the way they were dealt with are still relevant. Clearly the financial initiative of the Executive is always a live issue and often a source of tension for Members seeking to advance their causes as fully as possible. The House and Chairs now have access to an extensive body of authority on the issue but its continuing relevance springs from more than that. It relates to the people, the human element.

There can be no doubt that the Chairmen then, and the Speakers, anticipated the issues, seeking advice and views but ultimately taking responsibility. They reflected on the relevant constitutional and standing order provisions and precedents and withstood considerable pressure on them in the Chair, displaying courtesy to each other and to Members who, in some cases, could have been more courteous to them. These instances also show the beginnings of institutional maturity: House processes and authorities were being built over time to ensure integrity, clarity, and relevance to their environment.

Characterising the Deputy Speaker’s role and personal attributes
The Speaker’s powers and duties are very broad in scope. They can be grouped as constitutional; traditional and ceremonial; statutory; procedural; and administrative. By comparison, the Deputy Speaker’s role is not so multifaceted. Their focus is highly operational whether they are in the Chair or working behind the scenes. Theirs is more a complementary, supporting role than a constitutional one, more practical than ceremonial or traditional.

While the Deputy Speaker is chosen by the House and in that formal role acts for the whole House, there is still the opportunity for them to participate as an ordinary Member. The Deputy Speaker can take an intermediate stance, supporting the Speaker and panel in the operations and culture of the House but also having more immediate contact with Members—and bringing that additional perspective to their supporting role.

The entries on Deputy Speakers make for interesting reading, not least because of the diverse membership of the cohort. No ‘universal’ personal features can be identified although a calm disposition and familiarity with standing orders must certainly be desirable, particularly when in the Chair. Chairman Chanter’s tact and good nature would be as helpful today as in 1901.

Some things can be said with reasonable certainty about the people. A Deputy Speaker will typically:

  • come from no particular background, being equally likely to have been a business person, a trade unionist, a public servant, or a farmer before coming to the House
  • certainly reserve their right to a ‘voice and vote’, participating fully in debate and decision-making when not presiding
  • understand the essential requirements for impartiality in the Chair and cooperation with the Speaker in managing conduct in the House and the work of the Speaker’s panel of Chairs
  • know about the possibility of going on to become the Speaker or a Minister.

As for the role, some parallels can be drawn with the Deputy Speaker’s particular domain, the Federation Chamber. Both have a profile that does not reflect adequately their role in enabling the House to ‘push through the business’. This is certainly not about facilitating a rubber stamp approach to the work of the House. Rather, it is about helping to ensure all Members have the opportunity to be heard, whether in debating their own or the Government’s proposals. The success or otherwise of the proposals is then a matter for the whole House to decide. 

Note: The following standing orders (as at 2 August 2022) relate to duties of the Deputy Speaker: S.O. 13, S.O. 14, S.O. 16, S.O. 17, S.O. 18, S.O. 19, S.O. 20, S.O. 183, S.O. 184, S.O. 185, S.O. 186, S.O. 187, S.O. 188, S.O. 189, S.O. 190, S.O. 191, S.O. 192, S.O. 192b, S.O. 193, S.O. 194, S.O. 195, S.O. 196, S.O. 197, S.O. 198, and S.O. 230. 

Deputy Speakers and Chairmen of Committees[18]                                           


Periods of office

CHANTER, John Moore

5.6.1901 to 10.10.1902;†  4.6.1903 to 22.10.1903

SALMON, Hon. Charles Carty

17.3.1904 to 15.12.1904;†  2.8.1905 to 21.12.1905

McDONALD, Hon. Charles

20.6.1906 to 12.10.1906;†  10.7.1907 to 19.2.1910

POYNTON, Hon. Alexander

1.7.1910 to 23.4.1913

FOWLER, Hon. James Mackinnon

9.7.1913 to 30.7.1914

CHANTER, Hon. John Moore

9.10.1914 to 26.3.1917;  14.6.1917 to 3.11.1919;
27.2.1920 to 6.11.1922

BAMFORD, Hon. Frederick William

28.2.1923 to 3.10.1925

BAYLEY, James Garfield

14.1.1926 to 9.10.1928; 7.2.1929 to 16.9.1929

McGRATH, David Charles

20.11.1929 to 27.11.1931

BELL, George John, CMG, DSO, VD

17.2.1932 to 7.8.1934

PROWSE, John Henry

23.10.1934 to 21.9.1937; 30.11.1937 to 27.8.1940; 21.11.1940 to 21.6.1943

RIORDAN, William James Frederick

22.6.1943 to 7.7.1943; 24.9.1943 to 16.8.1946

CLARK, Joseph James

7.11.1946 to 31.10.1949

ADERMANN, Charles Frederick

22.2.1950 to 19.3.1951; 20.6.1951 to 21.4.1954;
4.8.1954 to 4.11.1955;  15.2.1956 to 14.10.1958

BOWDEN, George James, MC

17.2.1959 to 7.3.1961

LUCOCK, Philip Ernest, CBE

8.3.1961 to 2.11.1961; 20.2.1962 to 1.11.1963;
25.2.1964 to 31.10.1966; 21.2.1967 to 29.9.1969;
25.11.1969 to 2.11.1972

SCHOLES, Gordon Glen Denton

28.2.1973 to 11.4.1974; 9.7.1974 to 27.2.1975

BERINSON, Joseph Max

27.2.1975 to 14.7.1975

JENKINS, Henry Alfred

19.8.1975 to 11.11.1975

LUCOCK, Philip Ernest, CBE

17.2.1976 to 10.11.1977

MILLAR, Percival Clarence

21.2.1978 to 19.9.1980; 25.11.1980 to 4.2.1983

JOHNSON, Hon. Leslie Royston

21.4.1983 to 19.12.1983


28.2.1984 to 11.10.1984; 21.2.1985 to 11.2.1986

McLEAY, Leo Boyce

11.2.1986 to 4.6.1987; 14.9.1987 to 29.8.1989

EDWARDS, Ronald Frederick

29.8.1989 to 19.2.1990; 8.5.1990 to 8.2.1993

JENKINS, Harry Alfred

4.5.1993 to 29.1.1996

ROCHER, Allan Charles  (Second Deputy)

3.3.1994 to 29.1.1996

NEHL, Garry Barr

30.4.1996 to 31.8.1998; 10.11.1998 to 8.10.2001

JENKINS, Harry Alfred  (Second Deputy)

30.4.1996 to 31.8.1998; 10.11.1998 to 8.10.2001; 12.2.2002 to 31.8.2004;  16.11.2004 to 17.10.2007

CAUSLEY, Hon. Ian Raymond

12.2.2002 to 31.8.2004; 16.11.2004 to 17.10.2007

BURKE, Anna Elizabeth

12.2.2008 to 19.7.2010

SCOTT, Hon. Bruce Craig  (Second Deputy)

12.2.2008 to 19.7.2010; 28.9.2010 to 9.10.2012

SLIPPER, Hon. Peter Neil

28.9.2010 to 24.11.2011

BURKE, Anna Elizabeth

24.11.2011 to 9.10.2012

SCOTT, Hon. Bruce Craig

9.10.2012 to 5.8.2013; 12.11.2013 to 9.5.2016

GEORGANAS, Steven (Second Deputy)

10.10.2012 to 5.8.2013

MITCHELL, Robert George (Second Deputy)

12.11.2013 to 9.5.2016; 30.8.2016 –

COULTON, Mark Maclean

30.8.2016 to 5.3.2018

HOGAN, Hon. Kevin John

26.3.2018 to 10.2.2020

O’BRIEN, Llewellyn (Llew) Stephen

10.2.2020 to 11.4.2022

CLAYDON, Sharon Catherine

26.7.2022 –

GOODENOUGH, Ian Reginald (Second Deputy) 26.7.2022 –

* Title changed from Chairman of Committees to Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees on 3 November 1992 and to Deputy Speaker on 21 February 1994. The position of Second Deputy Speaker was created on 21 February 1994.

† Before 10 July 1907 the Chairman of Committees was appointed on a sessional basis.

[1] The role was first titled ‘Chairman of Committees’, became ‘Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees’ on 3 November 1992, then ‘Deputy Speaker’ on 21 February 1994. The equivalent role in the Senate is the ‘Deputy President and Chair of Committees’. 

[2] Speakers Salmon, McDonald, Scholes, Jenkins, Child, L. McLeay, Jenkins, Slipper, and Burke held both offices. A longstanding arrangement between the coalition partners means that, when they are in government, the Speaker is nominated from the Liberals and the Deputy Speaker from The Nationals.

[3] S.O. 13.

[4] The party affiliation of the early Chairmen of Committees was not so critical. Occasionally in recent times there have been some different choices when Members were nominated for the Deputy Speaker role. See VP 2010–13/9 (28.9.2010) and VP 2019–20/665 (10.2.2020).

[5] The Federation Chamber (formerly known as the Main Committee) is the House’s second Chamber. See S.O.s 16 (b) and 17 (b) and (c).

[6] Constitution, s. 36. See S.O.s 16 and 18 and Elder 2018, 204–6 and 184–86 for an overview of current arrangements. Early developments in what constituted the Acting Speaker’s role are discussed in Pettifer 1981, 216–18.

[7] For example, during the forty-third parliament, at the Speaker’s request, Deputy Speaker Burke took the Chair at question time and other times throughout the day.

[8] The Constitution (s. 40) refers to the Speaker for the exercise of this power; S.O. 3(d) enables only the Speaker, Acting Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Second Deputy Speaker to exercise it.

[9] S.O. 188. See Elder 2018, 194-96 and note the comment about the possible impact on the authority of the Chair and the absence of dissent provisions in the Canadian, United Kingdom and Indian lower houses.

[10] S.O. 222 (b).

[11] S.O.s 183, 187-90, 197-8; Elder (ed.) 2018, 781-91.

[12] S.O.s 16 (b), 17 (c), and 187 (a).

[13] See Pettifer 1981, 222; and H.R. Deb. (26.6.2013) 7192, where Speaker Burke spoke during Members’ constituency statements.

[14] Parliamentary Presiding Officers Act 1965, in particular, sections 5 and 7. See also Elder (ed.) 2018, 184-86.

[15] S.O. 13 (c). Appendix 3 to Elder 2018 includes the names of Second Deputy Speakers.

[16] See Pettifer 1981, 345–46 for a detailed discussion of the complex early financial procedures that were reformed in 1963.

[17] For a full discussion of the Chairman of Committees role see Pettifer and Browning 1989, 233–38.

[18] Based on Appendix 3 to House of Representatives Practice, 7th ed. 2018.


  • Australia. House of Representatives. Parliamentary Debates, 12 November 1901, 7136–39
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Parliamentary Debates, 5 June 1901, 745–46
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Parliamentary Debates, 14 December 1927, 3204
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Parliamentary Debates, 26 June 2013, 7192
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Votes and Proceedings, 1901–3, 237
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Votes and Proceedings, 1926–27, 481
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Votes and Proceedings, 2010–13, 9
  • Australia. House of Representatives. Votes and Proceedings, 2019–20, 665
  • Bosc, M. and A. Gagnon, eds. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 3rd ed. Montréal: Éditions Yvon Blais, 2017.
  • Elder, D. R., ed. House of Representatives Practice, 7th ed. Canberra: Department of the House of Representatives, 2018
  • McGee, David. Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand, 4th ed., edited by M. Harris and D. Wilson. Auckland: Oratia Books, 2017. Available online at
  • Natzler, D. and M. Hutton, eds. Erskine May’s Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, 25th ed. London: LexisNexis, 2019. Available online at
  • Parliamentary Library, Department of Parliamentary Services. The 46th Parliament. Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2020.
  • Pettifer, J. A., ed. House of Representatives Practice, 1st ed. Canberra: Department of the House of Representatives, 1981
  • Pettifer, J. A. and A. R. Browning, eds. House of Representatives Practice, 2nd ed. Canberra: Department of the House of Representatives, 1989

Original publication

  • Biographical Dictionary of the House of Representatives , November 2021

Citation details

Catherine Cornish, 'Australian House of Representatives - Deputy Speaker', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, originally published 30 November 2021, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2010-2024