Maree Edwards MP was officially elected as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in the Victorian Parliament on Tuesday 5 August 2022.
See below Maree's speech shortly after her election to the role:
With the indulgence of the house, I would like to say a few brief words. I firstly want to thank members for their support and for electing me to be Speaker. I would also like to acknowledge and thank our previous Speaker, the honourable member for Bundoora, for the great job he has done, particularly for his integrity in the role and for his support while I have been his deputy for the past five years. A former member once said to me that it is a great honour to be elected as a member of Parliament and anything that comes after that is a privilege. So I am both honoured and privileged to be here in the Speaker’s chair.
I want to acknowledge and thank my four children, their partners, my two stepsons and—for those who are keeping up—my eight, soon to be nine, grandchildren and my extended family and friends, some of whom are here today, for their unwavering love and support and for keeping me grounded. My electorate office staff, Martyn, Lynda, Pam and Sam, are the backbone of the work we do in the electorate of Bendigo West, and I am extremely grateful for all that they do. Thank you.
To the communities across Bendigo West, I am truly honoured that I was elected to represent you almost 12 years ago. I pledge to continue to work hard to deliver great outcomes for all. As only the fourth woman to take the Speaker’s chair in the long history of this Parliament, I am reminded that although significant progress has been made, we still have some way to go to achieve gender equity. To the women who came before me and to the first woman Speaker of this place, the Honourable Judy Maddigan—who I acknowledge is in the gallery today—thank you for trailblazing opportunities for women in this role. As mentioned, there is only a short time left before the dissolution of this 59th Parliament, and I would like to encourage all members over the coming weeks to embrace respect for each other, for the communities they represent and for the outstanding clerks and staff who keep this place a successful working environment.
I would also encourage respect for the Chair always and adherence to the rules of the house. Standing orders, as we know, are there for a reason, and it is imperative to the smooth operation of the house that they are followed. To all, I say my door will always be open and I look forward to engaging with you. I also encourage you to raise matters that are of interest or concern to you. I am always open to new ideas and new suggestions. When I told my husband, Steve, that I was likely to be Speaker of the house I think he was pretty chuffed. Thank you, Steve, for all you do and for your love and support, and I promise not to call you to order too often. I cannot promise the same to members. However, in fairness and with impartiality I will be respectful and endeavour to always be kind and empathetic. As is past practice, I ask members to refer to the Chair as ‘Speaker’, and no prefix is required.