Audrey Young 's Opinion

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young: Peters' stoush with Speaker gets serious

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The Speaker, Lockwood Smith. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Speaker, Lockwood Smith. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The clear disrespect New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has for Parliament's Speaker, Lockwood Smith, is becoming more evident by the day.

Yesterday it took a more serious step yesterday with Mr Peters lodging a motion of no-confidence in him.

It follows an incident on Tuesday when Dr Smith refused to give Mr Peters the call on a "point of order," which takes precedence over other speakers, and instead call Prime Minister John Key.

That resulted in Mr Peters being ordered out of the House.

Asked why he had filed a no-confidence motion, he said: "We can't go on like this where the rules are made up on the spot."

Mr Peters also told the Speaker during Question Time yesterday that he was sick of Dr Smith's interpreting what a minister has said.

It happened regularly if an Opposition MP believes a minister has not answered the question and Dr Smith explains why he thinks the minister has or has not answered the question.

After one such incident yesterday, after Dr Smith said what he thought Education Minister Hekia Parata had said, Mr Peters said most people in the House were sick and tired of having ministers' statements interpreted and becoming the record of the House.

"We cannot quote them because the words are from you, not from the person who gave them, namely the minister. I am sick and tired of it and I think the House and the public are."

Moving motions of no confidence in a Speaker are rare.

It is unlikely that Mr Peters motion will even make it to the floor of the House, let alone be passed, because it needs the Government agreement to get onto the agenda, or to have no objection from any party.

But Labour has said it will it discuss it at next week's caucus meeting.

Shadow leader of the House Trevor Mallard said that many people believed the Speaker had made an error in his call on Tuesday by calling Mr Key first.

Mr Peters first serious clash with Dr Smith this term occurred soon after the House had paid tribute to three soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Question time was underway and Mr Peters was asking questions about the sale of the Crafar farms when Dr Smith objected to the banter taking place saying that after the tributes, they were"carrying on like spoilt brats."

Dr Smith is expected to named soon as the next High Commissioner to London.

- NZ Herald

Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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