The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tony Smith MP, is the recipient of the John Button Award for his exemplary conduct in the vital role of Speaker.

The role of the Speaker in maintaining the dignity of the House is often overlooked. In his four years since taking office Speaker Smith has done much to restore the standing of the office.

After his election in 2015 he declared that he would be a non-partisan Speaker.

Mr Smith has upheld the role of Parliament vis-a-vis the executive government, as one of the three arms of government in Australia. His decision in standing up for the rights of Members of Parliament against the advice of the Attorney-General and conveying to the House advice written by the Solicitor-General which the Government did not want disclosed was courageous and in the best traditions of parliamentary practice.

In enunciating his first task as the restoration of the standing of the office he described the Speaker’s role as the defender of the rights of all members of the House of Representatives and has significantly raised the bar as to what the public should expect of a Speaker. The Accountability Round Table considers he has done this and much more.

His re-election as Speaker in July 2019 was supported by the Opposition, indicating the very high esteem in which he is held. He is a very worthy recipient of this award.

The Alan Missen Award goes to Cathy McGowan, AO, for her outstanding example of how a local member should operate in Parliament. She served in the House of Representatives as the independent Member for Indi from 2013 to 2019.

Her two terms were characterised by her commitment to those in her electorate, and her embrace of significant issues crucial to Australia’s parliamentary democracy.
In particular, this award recognises her efforts to give Australia a worthwhile integrity body that would cover not only parliament but the public service.

Working with others, she introduced into the Parliament the National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 and the National Integrity (Parliamentary Standards) Bill 2018. Both lapsed at the close of the 45th Parliament in May 2019, and Ms McGowan did not re-contest the seat of Indi.

She also demonstrated independence and courage as a proponent of the Medevac legislation, although it was strongly opposed by the Government.

Speaking in support of a national integrity commission, she told Parliament:

“One of the key principles, colleagues, that I use in this place when I’m making decisions and voting is: will it bring good governance? The trust and faith of my electorate in this House and the work we do relies on my community trusting and having good faith in the integrity of our system. I support a process where we regularly reassess and strengthen the system of integrity and anti-corruption in this country.”

The Accountability Round Table applauds her commitment to reforms that it considers vital for open, accountable and transparent government.