Anna Burke was elected on Tuesday as House Speaker of the Australian Parliament, putting an end to career of Peter Slipper who resigned over a sexual harassment scandal.
Ms Burke was actually acting speaker since the scandal broke out a few months ago after a male employee of Mr Slipper accused the speaker of sexual harassment. She is the Labor MP for the Victorian seat of Chisholm.
She will add to the power female politicians in Australia and to Labor's handbag hit squad against Opposition leader Tony Abbott whom Prime Minister Julia Gillard accused of being a misogynist (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihd7ofrwQX0).
Ms Gillard described the new speaker as a hard-working, very focused and a very diligent member of the Parliament. Ms Burke is the second female Speaker of the House of Representatives after another Labor MP, Joan Child, who held the post between 1986 and 1989
"I will draw upon the great legacy of Joan Child who was the first female speaker in this House," Brisbane Times quoted Ms Burke, who was nominated by Labor MPs Kirsten Livermore and Kelvin Thomson. She was elected to replace Mr Slipper unopposed.
Critics of Mr Abbott pointed out that Ms Burke is one of the powerful female figures in Australia whom the Coalition leader has apparent problems. Because of the onslaught of media accounts of Mr Abbott's alleged problem with women, his wife, Margie Abbott has came to his defence and denied the misogyny charges.
Mr Abbott said the election of Ms Burke makes parliamentary history by having three speakers in one parliament. However, he acknowledged that as deputy and acting speaker, Ms Burke very competently served these posts.
"I am confident you will discharge your duties faithfully and honourable for the duration of this parliament," Mr Abbott said.
Ms Burke, who is married and has two children, was nominated for the same post 11 months ago after Harry Jenkins resigned as Speaker, but MPs then opted for Mr Slipper who actually survived a vote to remove him as Speaker by just one vote.
Despite the result, Mr Slipper resigned to the Governor-General. "The importance of the role Speaker in the House of Representatives is far greater than my own role," The Australian quoted the disgraced MP.
Ironically, Mr Slipper earned praise from Mr Abbott as what he did showed good judgment.
"While it is obvious from the events earlier today the members on this side of the House and at least one crossbencher did not want the Speaker to continue in his role, tonight I have to say that we all feel for him as a human being," The Australian quoted Mr Abbott.
"He has obviously been through a very difficult period, so we do feel for him as a human being, while we think that he has done the right and honourable thing by resigning from his high office," he added.
In her address to Parliament, Ms Gillard said she would not receive a lecture about sexism and misogyny from Mr Abbott. "If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in Australia, he does not need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror," the prime minister said.
To replace Ms Burke as deputy speaker, the MPs elected Bruce Scott, who has been MP for Maranoa since 1990. Mr Scott beat South Australian MP Steve Georganas for the post by just four votes.
On Wednesday, in his first vote as an independent MP, Mr Slipper backed the Labor government in changing the procedure for electing a second deputy speaker. The post eventually went to Mr Georgonas despite the opposition of the Coalition to the move.
To contact the editor, e-mail: