Still more questions about the impartiality
and competence of Speaker David Hawker. Kim Beazley kicked off Question Time
yesterday by asking the PM about maverick Queensland Liberal MP Cameron
Thompson’s comments on the scuttled conservative merger– only to have his
question ruled out of order as it did not relate to the PM’s ministerial responsibilities.

Protests from Beazley and points of order
from his colleagues didn’t soothe the Speaker – including a claim of precedent
from the veteran Bob McMullan.

Indeed, the Speaker didn’t look
particularly comfortable for all of Question Time. He looked stressed.
Perhaps he was thinking of the precedent of a previous occupant of the chair,
Sir Frederick Holder. Here’s what a Parliamentary Library paper has to say about him:

first Speaker of the House of Representative, Sir Frederick Holder, held
himself aloof from party politics. Elected unopposed in 1901, and again in 1904
and 1907, he held office until he collapsed on the floor of the House in 1909,
in the midst of acrimonious proceedings. He died shortly afterwards.