Tasmanian Liberal Stalwart Rene Hidding to take on Speaker’s Role in Cabinet Reshuffle

Long-serving Liberal MP Rene Hidding is set to become Tasmanian’s 40th Speaker of the House of Assembly.

The Police Minister announced he will nominate to take on the role when Parliament returns next month.

It comes as Premier Will Hodgman is expected to reveal his second-term cabinet in the coming days.

The move makes incumbent speaker Mark Shelton one of the shortest-serving speakers in the state’s history, presiding over the House for only nine sitting days.

Mark Shelton Tasmanian Liberal Party

Mr Hidding said he had spoken to Mr Shelton, but said he didn’t know if any of his colleagues would also nominate for the role.

“He’s a mate of mine and a Lyons member and he accepts this is the one period where all jobs are declared vacant,” Mr Hidding said.

Mr Hidding said he has told the Premier he isn’t interested in a seat at the cabinet table.

“It’s something you wouldn’t do every day of the week but under all circumstances I’ve chosen to do that,” he said.

“It’s fair to say after 22 years in Parliament, for much of it in opposition as leader of opposition business, I had a lot to do with the running of the Parliament and I’ve always had an interest in how the Parliament operates.”

After the 2014 state election Mr Hidding was widely tipped to become the Speaker, but in a surprise move Mr Hodgman announced Elise Archer for the role.

Elise Archer in Speaker's chair in the Tasmanian Parliament.

At the time, Ms Archer had been acting as the police spokeswoman and it was expected she would take on that position in cabinet.

Ms Archer became the state’s first female Speaker, but was promoted to cabinet in a re-shuffle last year.

At age 65, Mr Hidding said it was likely this year’s election would be his last.

He said he was committed to serving the full four-year term, but acknowledged the possibility that “anything could take place”.

“The contract is for four years, I accept that, it’s my intention to serve the four years.”

Defending firearms policy

Mr Hidding defended his proposed changes to the state’s gun laws, saying they are modest and in line with decisions from a Council of Australian Governments meeting.

The new police minister will be tasked with getting the laws through the Parliament.

“They are in line with a decision to protect farmers from occupational health and safety issues and will stand up in the Parliament as complete common sense regardless of who the minister is,” Mr Hidding said.

“They are modest and not out of line.

“It’s government policy and we will put it to the Parliament.”

Deputy Labor Leader Michelle O’Byrne described Mr Hidding as a “failed minister”.

“The new incoming police minister will have to be very clear on exactly what is going to happen with gun law reform and exactly why the Tasmanian people weren’t told before the election,” she said.

She described his move to Speaker as a “retirement vehicle”.

“I think it’s extremely unlikely Rene Hidding will see out his term, he’s been on a retirement pathway for some time.”

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