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Williams is the new Whip

Wednesday, 4th May, 2011

NEW ROLE: Member for Murray Darling John Williams, pictured with his grandchildren Madeleine and Avalon after winning the March 26 election, is the new Nationals Whip. NEW ROLE: Member for Murray Darling John Williams, pictured with his grandchildren Madeleine and Avalon after winning the March 26 election, is the new Nationals Whip.

by Gina Wilson

Local MP John Williams is the Nationals Whip in the Legislative Assembly.

The Member for Murray-Darling was elected to the position yesterday on his first day in the 'bear pit' as part of the new NSW Coalition Government.

As Whip, Mr Williams will liaise with ministers in regard to the business of the House, secure the attendance of Members in the House, arrange speakers for debates, arrange "pairs" and generally act as an intermediary between the party leaders in the House and back bench.

After an historic win at the March 26 election, Mr Williams took his place among the 68 other Coalition Lower House MPs as part of the 55th NSW Parliament. Labor has just 20 seats.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced the South Coast Liberal MP Shelley Hancock as the first woman speaker to the Lower House of Parliament in its 150 year history.

As per custom, she was dragged to the Legislative Assembly's Speaker's chair by the former speaker, the independent Richard Torbay, and new Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.

"My role is clear: to assist and guide you all and preside over the legislative assembly of the parliament with fairness and impartiality," Ms Hancock told the lower house.

Opposition Leader John Robertson also congratulated Ms Hancock, a former high school teacher, on her appointment to the "unenviable task" of keeping the lower house in check.

"I would also like to acknowledge your appointment as the first female speaker in the history of this great state," he said.

"This is an important moment for the NSW parliament, and I acknowledge the significance of the premier's decision to continue the work undertaken by both sides of this house in reaffirming the crucial role of women within the parliament."

Nationals MP Thomas George was elected Deputy Speaker, and the Nationals' Andrew Fraser as Assistant Speaker.

The Legislative Assembly numbers are made up by three independents, and the Greens' Jamie Parker, his party's first MP in the lower house. 

The NSW Governor Marie Bashir officially opened the new session of parliament yesterday afternoon. BDT/AAP

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