MP calls for change in selection of Speaker

Tauranga MP Brendan Horan is calling for a change in the way Parliament's next Speaker will be selected.

Current Speaker Lockwood Smith has been appointed New Zealand's next high commissioner to the United Kingdom. Prime Minister John Key has nominated David Carter as replacement.

Mr Horan has written to Mr Smith calling for the election of his successor by way of secret ballot.

"This would allow all members [of Parliament] - and New Zealand - to be sure that a Speaker succeeding you will enjoy the unquestioned confidence of the house," he wrote in the letter.

"It is unfortunate that matters have developed so that the question appears to have become a partisan issue. Parties are complaining that they have not been consulted, and the Prime Minister on radio described his nominee as happy to do anything I wanted him to do. It would be abhorrent for a Prime Minister to be exercising, or be seen as being able to exercise, control over Parliament's presiding officer."

Mr Horan said New Zealand was one of very few Commonwealth countries which did not already use a secret ballot.

Canada first elected a Speaker by secret ballot over 25 years ago and Britain has since adopted that, he said.

"It is vital that a new Speaker can be seen to enjoy the confidence of members, and that members are able to freely exercise their vote without there being any suggestion of party requirements."

Mr Horan suggested his letter be put this letter before the business committee for consideration.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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