PETER Slipper is now the speaker for the House of Representatives.
Agreeing to take the role, a decision forbidden by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott earlier today, will deprive the Coalition of a much-needed vote in the House.
South Australian MP Chris Pyne repeatedly nominated ALP members in a futile effort to protect the Coalition from that loss.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to former speaker Harry Jenkins for his achievements, followed by Mr Abbott who questioned the intentions of Mr Jenkins who had left the role at a time seemingly perfect for the ALP government.
Mr Abbott also congratulated Mr Slipper in his new role, encouraging him to rule without fear nor favour.
THE ROAD TO THE CHAIR
MR Slipper did not attend a meeting of Coalition members called by leader Tony Abbott this morning in which he instructed them not to nominate for the position of Speaker vacated by Harry Jenkins.
A note detailing the instruction was sent from the party room to Mr Slipper's parliamentary office.
Senior Queensland LNP sources said if Mr Slipper, as expected, defies Mr Abbott's instruction he will be expelled.
Party sources expect that current deputy speaker Peter Slipper, the LNP member for Fisher, will defy Mr Abbott and take the job in a deal believed to have been stitched up a week ago.
The Governor General will send a message to the House within the next two hours instructing it to elect a new speaker.
"Tony Abbott will direct everyone not to stand,'' a source said.
According to sources Mr Slipper has told people in Canberra that he won't be contesting the next federal election and has "another job".
"The party will need to expel him,'' one source said.
It is believed that last week's controversial visit by former Labor leader Kevin Rudd to Mr Slipper's electorate at the same time Labor icon John Howard was launching John Connolly's state campaign in Nambour was a deliberately contrived piece of theatre leading up to today's events.
The last sitting day of Parliament today will receive the latest report on members expense account claims with insiders saying that Mr Slipper has done little to curb his free spending ways.
"There will be no reason to hold back now,'' one Liberal Party source said.
"Peter Slipper's position will become untenable."
At 12.25pm the House will resume for the last time this year. The first item on the agenda will be the election of a new Speaker after Harry Jenkins signaled his intention to resign from the position.
Mr Jenkins released the following statement this morning:
"Today marks my 1382nd day as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I have at all times tried to uphold the fine traditions of Speaker, and to the best of my ability have attempted to carry out my duties in the most independent and non-partisan manner possible.
As members are aware in this the 43rd Parliament, to further avoid controversial party political matters I have divorced myself from involvement with the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
In this era of minority government I have progressively become frustrated at this stricture. My desire is to be able to participate in policy and parliamentary debate, and this would be incompatible with continuing in the role of Speaker.
As a consequence, when I vacate the Chair at the end of this short statement I will visit the Governor-General to tender my resignation as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I thank all members for their co-operation which they have dispensed to varying degrees depending upon the individual.
I thank everyone who works for the Department of House of Representatives under the capable leadership of the Clerk Bernard Wright and the Deputy David Elder; they serve us well. My gratitude goes to the diverse range of officers of the Department of Parliamentary Services: from gardeners to guards, technicians and tradies, researchers to reporters, Hansard; they serve us well.
To presidents Hogg and Ferguson with whom I served as co-presiding officer, and the members and officers of the other place with whom I had interaction, I thank them for their forbearance.
All these people ensure that the Australian Parliament remains an enduring effective institution.
My staff in the Speaker's Office have assisted me and kept me well grounded; I believe that members would agree with me that they carry out their duties with integrity and professionalism.
Finally I acknowledge my eternal indebtedness to my "trouble and strife" Michele and the four generations of my family without whose support I would never have been able to achieve the high office I hold.
Late yesterday I ascertained that the Governor-general is available for my call before 9.30 therefore I must depart. I go placidly with my humour intact. I wish you all well."