Armstrong on Smith

February 1st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

So exits as Parliament’s . And to genuine and sustained applause from MPs from all parties.

Except Winston whose speech yesterday was churlish. Winston goes from having the Speaker being the guy who beat him for a safe seat nomination in 1984, to the guy whom he unsuccessfully tried to sue for defamation. He holds a grudge.

Once the House was under way, there could often be too much referee’s whistle rather than him allowing the two main parties to engage in no-holds-barred debate. He was noticeably reluctant to grant applications for snap debates – one of the few means available to Opposition parties to hold Governments to account. He was subject to potential no confidence motions from Opposition parties.

Yet no other Speaker has done more to help the Opposition and uphold Parliament’s role of ensuring Cabinet ministers are accountable for what happens in their portfolios. His insistence that a minister address the actual question being posed by an Opposition MP rescued Parliament from fast-approaching irrelevance.

He has indeed, and the precedents he has established will carry on beyond him.

Carter is an avuncular figure who enjoys respect around Parliament for the quiet, modest and unfussy way he has gone about doing a good job in his ministerial portfolios. He will do a good job as Speaker even though he might not have wanted the job. But Smith will be a hard act to follow.

Indeed.

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14 Responses to “Armstrong on Smith”

  1. PaulL (5,943 comments) says:

    I occasionally listen to Australian parliament when driving during the day. I wish they had a Lockwood – the pretence of answering questions that they go through is frankly embarrassing, basically it’s an opportunity for the questioner to read out a prepared statement on something (hoping for media time), and the Minister to read out a prepared statement on something completely unrelated, either making a petty point or seeking their own media time. It seems to have no redeeming merits.

    On the upside, Australia has Senate Estimates, which is a powerful means of holding govt to account.

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  2. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    I clashed with Lockwood when he was Minister of Education in the early to mid-90s and didn’t think well of him. I still have issues with several of his ‘reforms’, however he was easily the best Speaker I’ve seen (since Burke) and has dramatically improved the conduct of Parliament. A significant contribution to the NZ democracy. Here’s hoping his standards are maintained.

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  3. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    Smith was a good Speaker. He was however a disaster as Minister Of Education. He, all too easily let himself be seduced by the left-wing education politburo into implementing some truly loony tunes ideas. The worst two were the removal of the importance of grammar, syntax and punctuation in the English curriculum and secondly, the “unit standards” fiasco which effectively ruined apprenticeships as we knew it.

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  4. Pete George (23,434 comments) says:

    Yes, Winston was churlish (he mentioned that word himself. This is what he said:

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First)

    It would be churlish not to acknowledge the departing Speaker and his contribution to this House. As you know, from time to time we have disagreed with his judgments, but that is the nature of a mature and robust democracy.

    Although we wish the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith well in his new appointment, representing New Zealand in one of our most important bases abroad, in London, we nevertheless have to place on record our disquiet that in a time when so many career diplomats have lost their jobs in foreign affairs, yet another political appointment by this Government has been made to supersede these career diplomats’ lifelong commitment to the service, and the country is going to suffer because of it.

    John Key, Peter Dunne, Turiana Turia, John Banks, Gerry Brownlee and Brendan Horan all praised Lockwood. David Shearer less so but he would have known him less well. Metiria Turei offered mild praise. Trevor Mallard was quite complimentary about what Lockwood did outside the house.

    Here is what all the leaders said from Hansard and also with links to videos.: http://yournz.org/2013/02/01/tributes-to-lockwood-smith-from-parliament/

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  5. RRM (9,776 comments) says:

    Should we be at all concerned, that our democracy is in such a state that one stand-out guy can really significantly improve the way it functions?

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  6. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,869 comments) says:

    RRM @ 2:46

    No.

    However we should be very concerned that two Labour hacks were able to bring the institution to its knees.

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  7. Pete George (23,434 comments) says:

    RRM – if we had a parliament full of responsible adults who put the representation of people and running of the country first we would hardly need a speaker, they would be able to set an example and behave themselves like adults.

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  8. James Stephenson (2,142 comments) says:

    Should we be at all concerned, that our democracy is in such a state that one stand-out guy can really significantly improve the way it functions?

    It’s a fact of life that the referee has a huge bearing on the way the game is played, isn’t it?

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  9. BeaB (2,105 comments) says:

    In my experience Lockwood was a good Minister of Education who was willing to listen and work collaboratively. He was good fun and always engaged with the people he was working with. Great to see him boogying with high school kids and having a great time with them and they with him. Yet the unions still sneered at him despite his having the PhD they all failed to achieve.
    It was good to hear Tariana give him credit for kura kaupapa. How often it is National that delivers to Maori! Not that they get much thanks.

    Winston was rude, ungracious and nasty. He just makes a fool of himself these days as he burbles and wanders and smirks like a half-wit. He and Captain Mumblef-ck will make a good pair!

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  10. scrubone (3,091 comments) says:

    Yet no other Speaker has done more to help the Opposition and uphold Parliament’s role of ensuring Cabinet ministers are accountable for what happens in their portfolios.

    Wilson had never been in opposition. She was also a close personal friend of the PM.

    I’ll always remember her time as a blot on our democracy.

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  11. iMP (2,354 comments) says:

    Lockwood’s great achievement is:

    He created bulls outside of parliament
    and killed bull inside of parliament.

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  12. pq (728 comments) says:

    its always the same isn’t it Farrar, you are one of the most gifted individuals in New Zealand,
    and yet you will not admit the obvious,
    you could be writing about the Green Labour Government soon,
    you come to terms with reality now

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  13. pq (728 comments) says:

    BeaB (1,450) Says:
    February 1st, 2013 at 3:37 pm
    In my experience Lockwood was a good Minister of Education who was willing to listen and work collaboratively. He was good fun and always engaged with the people he was working with. Great to see him boogying with high school kids and having a great time with them and they with him. Yet the unions still sneered at him despite his having the PhD they all failed to achieve.
    It was good to hear Tariana give him credit for kura kaupapa. How often it is National that delivers to Maori! Not that they get much thanks.

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  14. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    What does Carter look like in budgie smugglers though? :)

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