Speaker Sue Hickey has shed her robe.
Ms Hickey has decided not wear the Speaker’s traditional black robe – a move that has disappointed the State’s longest-serving Speaker, former Labor Lyons member Michael Polley.
“I decided not to wear the robe because it is a Senior Counsel gown and I am not an SC and this is the second half of my speakership and I felt I needed to be more myself and create a new way of dealing with the House,” she said.
“Clearly the gown didn’t give me any extra protection or respect.”
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Ms Hickey also said she noticed that many other speakers, including in the House of Representatives, did not wear robes.
“It’s a quaint tradition and I love tradition and pomp and ceremony but I also want a forward focused Parliament……and clothes don’t maketh the man!” she said.
However, Mr Polley who was House of Assembly Speaker for 20 years, said the robe rightly set the speaker apart from other members.
“The Speaker is the person making decisions and rulings, the umpire if you like,” Mr Polley said.
“As with a cricket or football umpire they have a different uniform from the players. You need to be able to impose your authority.
“It is not about you, it’s about Parliament.”
Ms Hickey, who was Miss Tasmania in 1979 and a former Lord Mayor, loves regalia, robes and gowns, but said she did not need a uniform.
“I’m not a police officer, it’s about the position not the clothes,” she said.
Mr Polley said the lower house was a “bear pit” and at times raucous.
When he was first elected Speaker in 1998 he wore the traditional gown with a high wing collar and lace cravat.
But in 1998 he dispensed with the collar and cravat and wore a black robe, dark suit and silver tie.
Legislative Council president Craig Farrell still wears his black robe and has no plans to stop wearing it.
“It’s always an option, some presidents haven’t, but my predecessor (former President) Jim Wilkinson always wore robes,” Mr Farrell said.
“It is up to the individual.
“As an old thespian I see it as part of the role and I am keeping up with tradition.
“I do it out of respect for the Parliament.”