Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Matthew Kelly | Posted: March 25, 2019
Re-elected Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said he would consider taking the role of Parliamentary Speaker if he was approached, but his first priority remains his electorate.
On Sunday afternoon the popular independent had won 72.8 per cent of the two-party preferred vote with a swing of 12.1 per cent.
Speculation has been rife that Mr Piper or fellow independents Alex Greenwich and Joe McGirr will be offered the speakers role to ensure the Government retains its slim voting majority.
"I can understand why people would be talking about it but it hasn't been raised with me," Mr Piper said on Saturday night.
"Would I say no? I'd think about it because there could be some good that could be achieved in the area of parliamentary reform."
The evergreen MP, who was first elected to parliament in 2007, remained tight lipped about whether he was entering his final term as the electorate's parliamentary representative.
"I'm not committing to anything. It's way too early, there's still a lot of pain to get through," he said.
"Realistically I'm towards the end of my political career. I'm 61 now and you never know what circumstances might be there."
"I'd love to see someone else stepping up. I'd love to have the ability to assist someone get involved in politics and community life. It's probably one area, while I have got a lot of people out there that I'm engaged with, I probably haven't done a great job of getting that succession plan in place."
His priority of the next four years is to continue to build the electorate's profile at a regional and state level.
"I think we need to lift what's been happening in the electorate. We have been getting some good things but Lake Macquarie can do so much more for the region and that's what I'd like to see it achieve,"
As a testament to Mr Piper's cross-party popularity Liberal parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, praised Mr Piper's "strong and sustained advocacy" when promising to spend $25 million on a new basketball stadium at Hillsborough in the last weeks of the campaign.
But Mr Piper was at odds with the major parties desire to maintain the lock-out laws earlier this year.
"At the time (2014) we were having a real problem and it was a legitimate tool to use," he said. "But not one that can't be adjusted," he said.
While Mr Piper said he was not "campaigning" to end the measures, the independent MP said the option of relaxing the laws should be on the table, as well as other policies that create "cultural change".
Greg Piper has been an independent voice for the people of Lake Macquarie for more than 20 years, as a Member of Parliament, Mayor and councillor. He was elected to Lake Macquarie council in 1991, served as Mayor from 2004 until 2012 and has been the State MP for Lake Macquarie since 2007.