Sue Hickey has no regrets about taking on the role of Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Despite some initial hostility when she defeated Rene Hidding for the position, she says her Liberal colleagues are all very “respectful.”
“I think they understand that I haven’t set out to destroy the government and that nobody has lost their jobs and the sky didn’t fall in,” Ms Hickey said.
“Yes there were some hostile Liberal members in the first few days which I expected once I realised the enormity of what had happened.”
Reflecting on her first parliamentary session in the Speaker’s chair, Ms Hickey said she was pleased that the feedback was that she had been fair but firm.
Despite often rowdy question times she had a personal goal of not throwing anyone out in her first session.
“It was important that I stamp my authority without just looking like an overbearing, authoritarian figure,” she said.
“I have given a couple of warnings, with a plea that they don’t push me to the limit and that they assist me in achieving this goal which seems to have been respected.
“I do expect that I will need to eject someone in the near future because it is important for the chair to keep discipline in the House.
“I want a productive parliament that we all can be proud of at the end of the term and unbridled passions must be checked to achieve this. Firm but fair will be my hallmark.”
The Parliamentary Library says veteran Labor Speaker Michael Polley suspended no-one in his first three months in the chair while her Liberal predecessor Elise Archer suspended two MPs during her first three months.
The former Hobart Lord Mayor and businesswoman is frustrated at some of the aspects of the role.
“I sometimes question the Westminster system for its quaintness of protocols,” she muses.
“They are little things like the fact I can’t call a quorum, I struggle with that.
“I don’t know any other form of governance where the chair doesn’t call a quorum and disband the meeting so that is a political play by the various parties.”
Ms Hickey defended her decision to vote with the government on Labor and Greens motions about abortion and short stay accommodation.
“They were personally tough because I agreed with the purpose of both of them,” she said.
“These things were thrashed out right to the last few minutes and this is where I hope to play a part for all three sides of politics where we can actually improve each offering.
“I actually held the first parts of those motions so the government still acknowledged ‘yes there was a problem’.”
Ms Hickey is adamant that she wants more consensus in parliament.
“What I learnt at local government was that everybody had something to offer,” she said. “Once I realised you needed seven votes to get anything done it really was about trying to find a way that we could all live with an outcome and that everybody gained something along the way.”
She says she wants to maintain impartiality in the role.
“I will probably visit a couple of (Liberal Party) branches from time to time but at the moment I’ve decided that for most speakers, the tradition of the speaker was to be impartial,” Ms Hickey said.
”The tradition is that you keep that impartiality and I think that is significant because I know it’s a bit utopian, but a more collaborative parliament actually gets better outcomes.”
Ms Hickey has moved into the Denison electorate office in Glenorchy vacated by former Labor MP Madeline Ogilvie who lost her seat at the March election and is keen to focus on her local consituency.
“It’s a good location right in the heart of Denison and very prominent so people can see it if they need help so they can recognise the office,” she said.
“I’ve often thought that Denison doesn’t have the profile at any level of government to get things.
“The north west knows that’s where the votes are so they tend to get the finances so it’s a chance for me to fight and champion Denison.”
She is coy about whether she will seek Liberal pre-selection for the next election.
“That’s still an issue for the Liberal Party to consider,” Ms Hickey said,
“For myself its three-and-a -half years away and I think I’m focused on what I can achieve in this term and I’ll make a decision closer to the time because I’m not one for sitting in a chair if I’m not delivering.
“I’m a hard worker and I’m used to getting outcomes.
”I stood to be part of a big, brave, bold and accountable government and that’s what I intend to see through this four years.
“I want to hold the parliament to be big bold brave and accountable.”