Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:
Prime Minister John Key says he is expecting an acrimonious start to the political year – and the gloves are already off over the election of Parliament’s new Speaker.
Labour has indicated it will not support National’s nomination of Primary Industries Minister David Carter as Speaker when Lockwood Smith vacates the chair this week.
The Speaker’s role is always contested and this year’s nomination has seen more jostling than usual with Carter said to be a reluctant nomination, while National backbencher Tau Henare has been angling for the job over the opposition of his colleagues.
Henare stirred the pot further this morning after being asked how Carter would go in the role.
His response was “who?”, before adding: “S … that’ll start the year off well.”
Labour leader David Shearer said the Government had not consulted Labour over the nomination.
“Until that happens the gloves in a sense are off,” he said.
Shearer said the issue was about the functioning of parliament and Labour wanted to be taken seriously over who should be the referee – Key was not respecting the convention of consulting the Opposition.
Key said Labour had already made its feelings about Carter’s nomination clear. He expected the vote to be split but that was not unusual.
“I’ve seen it before in my time in Parliament,” the prime minister said.
In 2004 National rejected the nomination of Labour candidate Margaret Wilson.
The Greens and NZ First have also said they will not be voting for Carter, but what will be more interesting is whom they nominate or vote for as an alternative.
The last contested election for Speaker was in March 2005. Three candidates declared their nominations – Margaret Wilson, Clem Simich and Ken Shirley. They got 64, 37 and 5 votes respectively.
Meanwhile Claire Trevett interviews David Carter on his plans in the role:
National’s David Carter admits it will be “a big ask” to be non-partisan as Speaker but says it was a critical part of being the Speaker and he would give it all he had. …
Asked if he could be non-partisan, he acknowledged that was a challenge for all Speakers.
“In all honesty, having been a very political and active player for 18 years in this place, the transition I have to make if I’m elected as Speaker is to be completely without bias. That is a big ask but I will do it to the best of my endeavours.”
He said it was the mark of a good Speaker to be apolitical. …
Mr Carter said today he was looking forward to the job.
“It’s a great honour – a great challenge. I don’t expect it’s going to be an easy time in the House, but I’m really looking forward to it, if I am successful on Thursday.”
Lockwood got mauled a fair bit in his early days by Mallard and Cullen. I imagine it will be much the same for Carter. What will be more interesting is how things go around three months down the track, as things settle down.