Parliament’s Speaker Lockwood Smith has confirmed he will stand down from his Rodney seat at the next election and seek to be returned to Parliament on National’s list instead.
The move follows months of speculation that Dr Smith would not seek re-selection in the blue-ribbon seat because of the constraints of his role as Speaker.
Dr Smith said he would continue to help his constituents and push the major roading projects in the electorate, “but as Speaker I have found it to be a little more difficult to be involved in political debate”.
“By my seeking a place on the National Party List, I feel that no matter what the future may hold for me the people of Rodney will be able to select a new member better able to voice their views in wider political debate.”
Lockwood has been a very popular MP in Rodney, and they will be sad to see him go. He will probably romp in at the top of the National Party list also. Lockwood frequently forces Ministers to ask questions they don’t want to, but this doesn’t dampen his popularity in the party. To the contrary he gets treated as a rock star at conferences, with delegates lining up to say how wonderful it is to have a Speaker who holds the Government to account -even if it is their Government.
I would not be entirely surprised is Sir Lockwood ends up in a diplomatic role towards the end of the next Parliament (if National is in Government again).
The selection for Rodney will be interesting. Steven Joyce lives in the electorate and is a popular person in the party (chairing winning campaigns does that). However there is no guarantee that there won’t be many strong candidates seeking the nomination and Steven I suspect will want to be careful he does not do a Phil Twyford and go for a nomination, and fail to gain it