Final proof that Jonathan Hunt is the most partial and biased Speaker in living memory was delivered yesterday.
Readers will recall that when Harry Duynhoven triggered the Electoral Act by applying for Dutch citizenship, the Speaker refused for several weeks to give any opinion at all on whether Harry’s seat was vacant. He had been formally advised of Harry’s actions, yet said he could give no opinion at all, and that he would also ask the Privileges Committee for their opinion. This of course just by coincidence allowed the Government to avoid a by-election by changing the law in the interim.
Then you contrast that with yesterday in the House, where to my amazement the Speaker, despite no request to do so from a single MP, and despite not having even read the judgement or having received a notice from the Court, got up and declared that in his opinion Nick Smith’s contempt conviction does not create a vacancy. And this comes just hours after Helen Clark declared that she does not want a by-election and thinks one is not necessary.
So in the former situation, where an MP’s membership of the House was in question, the Speaker refused to give any opinion despite numerous requests to do so, yet in this case (which is far far more complex than the Harry case, with law professors quite divided on the correct interpretation) the Speaker rushes to give an opinion before he has even been asked.
One has to ask if there is any possible rational explanation for the inconsistency, except pre-planned and deliberate collaboration with the Government.
It is a tragedy that someone who has been an MP for so long, and started off as one of the best Speakers in a generation, has descended to a level where he has abandoned any pretence at independence and actively colludes with the Government to help them out.
Harsh words, but nothing else can explain this behaviour.