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New Zealand Parliament

Her Majesty

Her Majesty's Commissioners open the 49th Parliament on 8 December 2008. Photo: Parliament TV

8 December 2008
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49th Parliament opened today

Earlier today the members of the 49th Parliament were sworn in and a new Speaker was elected after the session was opened by Her Majesty’s Commissioners.

The members elected at the recent general election assembled in the Debating Chamber at 2 pm. Three senior judges, including the Chief Justice, Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias GNZM , opened the session, having been sent by the Governor-General as Her Majesty’s Commissioners.

After the Commissioners departed the members took an oath or an affirmation as set out in the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957. This requires them to state their allegiance to the Crown, which they must do before they can participate in House proceedings.

Members then elected Hon Dr Lockwood Smith MP as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Speaker’s main function is to preside over the House when it is in session. You can find more information about the role of the Speaker in the Parliament Brief factsheet ‘Officers of the House’.

Although the session is now officially open, a more formal ceremony, known as the State Opening of Parliament will occur tomorrow, where the Governor-General will read the Speech from the Throne, setting out the Government’s legislative intentions. This is known as the State opening of Parliament, while today’s ceremony was the Commission opening.