Role of the Speaker in the New Zealand Parliament
The Speaker of the House of Representatives plays an important role both inside and outside the debating chamber, and must fulfil this role without bias to any political party.
The Speaker represents the House to the sovereign and Governor-General, chairs the House, acts as landlord for Parliament’s buildings, and represents the House to important visitors. It is usual for delegations from other parliaments and ambassadors to call on the Speaker.
The current Speaker of the House of Representatives is Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith. He was elected unanimously by the members of Parliament at the start of the 50th Parliament in 2011.He was also Speaker of the 49th Parliament.
In the House, the Speaker ensures that parties are treated fairly, and that order is maintained. One of the roles of Parliament is to hold the Executive (Ministers) to account. The Speaker has an important role in ensuring the House can carry out this process, particularly during question time. The Speaker is assisted by a Deputy Speaker and two Assistant Speakers.
The Speaker is automatically chairperson of the Business Committee. The current Speaker also chairs the Officers of Parliament Committee and the Standing Orders Committee.
The Speaker is the highest officer elected by the House. The position is third most important in New Zealand, after the Governor-General and the Prime Minister.
More information about the role of the Speaker can be found via the related links on this page.