Election and role
The Speaker is elected by the house as the first item of business at the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly following an election, and continues in office until the next election unless he or she resigns, is voted out of office or ceases to be a member.
The Speaker is responsible for:
- presiding over the proceedings in a fair and impartial manner and upholding the traditions, powers and privileges of the house;
- regulating debate and ensuring that proceedings are carried out according to the standing orders and customs of the Legislative Assembly;
- calling on members who wish to speak or ask a parliamentary question without notice, deciding on points of order and making rulings;
- guiding members of the Legislative Assembly in respect to general behaviour, language and dress; and
- on behalf of the Legislative Assembly, exercising control over the behaviour of visitors to the public gallery in the chamber to ensure that proceedings are not interrupted.
The Speaker does not take part in debates except on rare occasions. Further, the Speaker does not normally vote but does have a casting vote in the event that numbers in a division (a count) are equal.
The Speaker also has administrative functions as the political head (similar to a minister in government) of the parliamentary Department of the Legislative Assembly and, together with the President of the Legislative Council, is responsible for the overall management of Parliament.
The Speaker represents the Legislative Assembly at official functions and will often host government and parliamentary delegations.
The office of the Speaker is almost as old as the Westminster system of Parliament and has a fascinating history. Read about this in the fact sheet Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.