No Speaker Tau

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald writes:

National MP Tau Henare has indicated he has given up on the race to be the next Speaker, claiming the “scaredy cats” Maori Party had broken a promise to support his bid.

Mr Henare announced he intended to run for the Speaker’s position on Twitter in September – and yesterday he again turned to Twitter to send a signal he was about to end his campaign.

Their support was key. If all the opposition parties and the Maori Party vote together, then they have 60 votes. If Tau voted for himself he could have become Speaker by 61 votes to 60.

His tactics were bold and somewhat unprecedented. I doubt there ever has been a Speaker elected who didn’t receive a single vote from any of their party colleagues. It would have been a huge defeat for National to have a Speaker elected whom they did not support.

Not that I personally have any issues with Tau as Speaker. He’s funny and feisty and would throw Trevor and Winston out a lot – which has to be a plus.

However, Mr Henare was optimistic and had lobbied hard until yesterday when he tweeted that the Maori Party had now reneged on an undertaking to support him, which he said was critical to his decision to run in the first place.

“All I can say is maybe someone should start another Maori Party, maybe one that doesn’t renege on deals. Scaredy cats,” he tweeted.

He said he had that agreement in writing “and they still turned tail”.

I imagine they received some indication of how (un)successful their 2013 budget bids would be, if they voted for Tau.

Actually I don’t know what happened, but the reality in politics is government survive on trust and co-operation. The Maori Party probably worked out that humiliating the Government by electing a Speaker not supported by the Government (as far as I know no modern Speaker has ever been elected against the will of the Government) would seriously damage their relationships with Ministers and the Prime Minister.

The Maori Party co-leaders could not be contacted last night. Their support is unlikely to have been enough to get Mr Henare the job even with Labour’s support. The Speaker is voted on by Parliament and it is understood Henare was trying to persuade some of National’s caucus that they did not need to vote along party lines to try to make up the numbers he needed.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard said Labour had not yet decided who it would support for Speaker. Asked whether he had given any undertaking to Mr Henare, he said “I told him if we made a difference to the numbers, I’d take it to caucus”.

That would have been a fascinating discussion.

On Twitter, Mr Mallard had another job suggestion for Mr Henare, observing Mr Henare’s old job was up for grabs again – as deputy leader of NZ First.

Heh. They can hardly pick someone worse than the former deputy – Peter Brown!

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