Hansard and Journals
Election of Speaker
[Sitting date: 31 January 2013. Volume:687;Page:7679. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Thursday, 31 January 2013
Election of Speaker
The CLERK: Honourable members, I wish to advise the House that the office of Speaker is vacant.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I am requested by His Excellency the Governor-General to inform the House that it is His Excellency’s desire that the House should proceed to choose one of its members as its Speaker, and, in accordance with section 12 of the Constitution Act 1986, present that person at Government House at 4 p.m. today for His Excellency’s confirmation.
The CLERK: Honourable members, the House must now proceed to choose a Speaker. Are there nominations?
The CLERK: Are there further nominations?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) : Due to the rather unusual circumstances of this transition to another Speaker and its nomination, I seek leave for a 1-hour debate on this subject, before any vote takes place.
The CLERK: Leave has been sought. Is there any objection? There is objection.
The CLERK: Leave has been sought. Is there any objection? There is objection.
BRENDAN HORAN (Independent) : I seek leave that this election be conducted by way of a secret ballot. This would allow all members and New Zealand to be sure that the Speaker will enjoy the unquestioned confidence of this House. This has been discussed through the usual channels.
The CLERK: Leave has been sought for the vote to be conducted as a secret ballot. Is there any objection? There is objection. Are there any further nominations? There being two members nominated, a personal vote must be held. Ring the bells. A 7-minute bell will be rung. Those voting for the Hon David Carter will go to the right, to the Ayes lobby, and those voting for the Hon Trevor Mallard will go to the left, to the Noes lobby. Any member abstaining will come to the Table. The teller for the Ayes lobby—the Hon David Carter—is Louise Upston. The teller for the Noes lobby—the Hon Trevor Mallard—is Chris Hipkins.
Hon David Carter was elected as Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER-ELECT: Honourable members, thank you for electing me today as the 29th Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament. It is indeed a great honour. I want to assure all members that I will strive to master that transition from a partisan political player to a Speaker who upholds the democratic traditions of Parliament and respects the right of every one of you elected to this House to express your views within the rules of Parliament. In electing me as Speaker today, you are charging me with the responsibility of upholding the dignity and the respect that this institution deserves, and I accept that responsibility with enthusiasm.
In formally accepting this role, I do not underestimate the challenge before me. There will be occasions when the tension and the atmosphere within this House will fall somewhere between tinder-dry and white-hot. I see my responsibility being akin to a referee reffing the inevitable Super 15 final between the almighty Crusaders and one of the others—[Interruption]—thank you kindly—and, as a referee, having to make an instant decision and, of course, not having access to the whistle. But I will have access to the yellow and the red cards, although I hope they are used infrequently.
Honourable members, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of my predecessor. Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith has received accolades from all political parties in Parliament for the way that he has upheld the privileges of this House and you, its members. He has held Ministers to account, and I intend to do the same. He is a fine role model, but as I settle into this job my own style will undoubtedly emerge.
Honourable members, I wish to end on a brief reflection as Speaker-Elect and as a Cantabrian. Between 2005 and 2008 six members of Parliament educated at St Bede’s College, a secondary school in Christchurch, were members of this House. With my election today as Speaker, St Bede’s can now claim two Speakers, the late Sir Gerard Wall and me. Being the young man that I am, I was not here in Sir Gerry’s time, but some of our former members have said to me that of all the Speakers that they worked under he was the best. He certainly seems to have had a propensity to deal with disorder by expulsion from the House. On two separate occasions he expelled both the then Prime Minister, David Lange, and the then Leader of the Opposition, Jim Bolger, from the House on the same day. I certainly do not want to be in a position to emulate that record. Above all, I intend to strive to maintain the dignity of this House, and in an unbiased fashion.
Honourable members, as Speaker-Elect I will obey the instruction and go to the Governor-General at 4 o’clock this afternoon. I invite those of you who can do so to accompany me there. Again, thank you for this opportunity.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : Mr Speaker-Elect, can I be the very first in Parliament to congratulate you on your successful election and to wish you the very best for your time as Speaker of this Parliament.
Members of this Parliament know you well, but some members of the public may not know you so well, so for the purposes of that I thought it would be useful to summarise David’s achievements so far before taking up the role as Speaker-Elect, soon to be Speaker of this Parliament. He was, of course, elected to Parliament in 1994 as the MP for Selwyn. In the 1996 general election he won the Banks Peninsula electorate, before becoming a list member based in Canterbury in 1999. David was elected junior Government whip in 1996 before being promoted to be a Minister outside Cabinet in 1998. He returned to the Opposition benches as spokesman on finance, housing, and tourism from 1999. Following the 2008 general election, David’s ministerial responsibilities included Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, and, of course, Minister of Forestry. David was appointed Minister for Primary Industries, incorporating agriculture, biosecurity, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, following the 2011 general election, and Minister of Local Government in early 2012.
As he himself mentioned, he is a former student of St Bede’s, and this Parliament today has four other members who went to St Bede’s: Peter Dunne, Clayton Cosgrove, Gerry Brownlee, and Damien O’Connor. I say to those members congratulations on your world-class education, and commiserations for not going to Burnside High School.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: The rugby wasn’t good enough.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, the rugby possibly was not good enough, but I understand that it has improved since I left. In terms of further education, David went to Lincoln University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree. He had a varied career in farming and business before coming to Parliament. He established New Zealand’s first commercial cattle embryo transplant company, so he shares a great interest with the former Speaker, of course, who also has a strong interest in agriculture. In David’s spare time he farms beef and sheep properties on Banks Peninsula, and in Cheviot in North Canterbury. David is married to Heather, and they have four children, all of whom are in Parliament today to witness David’s election, and we welcome them here today.
Mr Speaker-Elect, I congratulate you on behalf of the Government on your election as Speaker of the House. You come to this role with 18 years of experience as a member of this House, including as a Minister, a member of the Opposition, and, of course, a Government whip. You bring to the House your wisdom of your time both in Parliament and prior to that. In my experience you are someone who is extremely fair, someone who is thoughtful, and someone who has a real passion for the parliamentary process. In my time as Prime Minister I have seen you work with both officials and other Ministers to try to achieve good, balanced, and sensible outcomes for New Zealand. You have had the guiding hand in the largest industries in New Zealand in terms of agriculture. I have found your counsel always to be sensible and wise. I was delighted when you indicated that you would accept the nomination as Speaker, and I am equally delighted that you have been elected today.
Like you, can I take a moment to reflect on the great contribution of the now former Speaker Lockwood Smith. Lockwood is someone who has been in this Parliament for 29 years. He came to the Speaker’s role somewhat out of surprise when I rang him and indicated to him that I thought it would be a great opportunity, but he came to this Parliament and demonstrated his enormous intellect and his great passion for the parliamentary process and the role that it plays in New Zealand’s democracy. He brought to this Parliament, I think, some real standards and some expectations. We on the Government side did not agree with every decision that he made, and I am sure Opposition parties did not, either, but what he attempted to do, and was successful in doing, was to ensure that this Parliament was perceived by other New Zealanders who watch this occasion—shall we use that word—that they could see that there was a great deal of importance about what was going on in this Chamber. He will be sorely missed as our Speaker, although he will take up his role, of course, as High Commissioner in London. I wish him the very best for that.
Finally, let me say that those who have not had an opportunity to read John Armstrong’s column this morning in the New Zealand Herald would be well served in doing so. I think he points out not only the great contribution that Lockwood Smith has made but also the great confidence that he has in you, Mr Speaker-Elect, to do a wonderful job in the years ahead.
DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) : Thank you, Mr Speaker-Elect, and I want to also congratulate you very warmly on behalf of the Labour Party and myself. We wish you all the very best in your role as Speaker. It was a contested election, but we accept the will of the majority, as is the way in this Parliament, and we will work constructively with you to make sure that this Parliament and this House is able to go through the matters it needs to go through in a way that is befitting of both this House and what is expected of us from the people of New Zealand, as well. So you certainly have my personal assurance on that, and we look forward to working with you.
I also just want to pay tribute to Lockwood Smith and to his contribution that he made. I think one of the things that we most appreciated from Lockwood was the fact that when we asked a straight question, he insisted on Ministers giving an answer, and that is a fine place to start, Mr Speaker-Elect, as you begin your Speaker’s career. But I also wanted to say that obviously he had his own idiosyncrasies, as well, and sometimes we would have preferred the Minister’s answer, rather than his interpretation of the Minister’s answer, to be the one that stood in the Hansard. However, I do believe that he made a very, very positive contribution in ensuring that the dignity of this House was upheld. We appreciate that, Lockwood, and we wish you all the very best as you go on your next challenge, to be the High Commissioner in London.
Once again, our congratulations to you, David. All the very best. You have served here 18 years, and that experience will, I am sure, serve you well as you take up this new position. All the very best.
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : Congratulations, Mr Speaker-Elect, on your successful nomination as Speaker of this House. If I might first just say how much I have enjoyed and respected working with Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith in his time as Speaker. He and I have not always agreed on every issue, but it has been a great joy to work alongside someone who is prepared to engage in these disagreements and come to conclusions in a respectful and dignified way. I have appreciated that opportunity to work with him like that. And I expect that it will be the same with you, Mr Speaker-Elect. We will not always agree on every issue, but it is the way in which those disagreements are played out and the discussions that we have that really speak to the way that a Speaker, and a caucus and an MP, can bring dignity to this House.
As you know, a major issue for the Greens has been ensuring that this Parliament becomes a genuinely accessible Parliament for all citizens in this country. We look forward to working with you in the future to embed the commitment of this Parliament to being an accessible Parliament; to making sure all citizens have access to this Parliament—as members of the public, as members of Parliament—because this is, after all, the people’s place. We look forward to working with you in the future, and we wish you the very best for this new part of your parliamentary career. Kia ora.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) : Mr Speaker-Elect, this is not to add a discordant note, but it is fundamental in our parliamentary democracy that we carefully choose a Speaker. It is of great importance, and that is why this is a serious and significant event not just here but around the country. It would be churlish not to acknowledge the departing Speaker and his contribution to this House. As you know, from time to time we have disagreed with his judgments, but that is the nature of a mature and robust democracy.
Although we wish the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith well in his new appointment, representing New Zealand in one of our most important bases abroad, London, we nevertheless have to place on record our disquiet that in a time when so many career diplomats have lost their jobs in foreign affairs, yet another political appointment by this Government has been made, superseding the lifelong commitment to the service of these career diplomats, and the country is going to suffer because of it.
There is another aspect of the transition that cannot be overlooked. Given the importance of the role of the Speaker as Parliament’s man or woman, we were deeply disappointed that the Government chose not to involve all political parties in any of the background considerations regarding the selection of a new Speaker. We are committed to a well-organised and effective democratic parliamentary process. We would have contributed constructively and thoughtfully to a dialogue around the selection of a new Speaker, which has been the long tradition of this Parliament. We want this House to work and to work well in the interest of our democracy. So it is our view that it would have been consistent with the values and spirit of our democracy for the Government to engage with other parties over the appointment of a new Speaker. This was not done, and there remains outstanding any explanation as to why it was done this way—or even to have a debate today on this very unprecedented selection process.
It makes your job doubly difficult, and I am certain you are very much aware of that. If the Government wants cooperation, then it needs to understand that cooperation is a two-way street. The manner of this selection evinces arrogance and a poor understanding of the need to try to image political neutrality in this post. We do not blame you for it, because the decision not to consult was not yours. In short, in our view it reflects poorly on the leadership of this Government.
So here we have an appointment that belies all the grandiose statements of aspiration, cooperation, and positivism, and this one act exposes the Government for being the shibboleths that in National’s mouth they have, most regrettably, become. I am not going to stand here today and make out that everything is fine and dandy, because it is not. This is a very important appointment, and we do congratulate you on having succeeded, and we wish you the very, very best in what, because of the circumstances of your advent to this job, is going to be more and more difficult. That said, we will give you a fair go and seek to cooperate with you in what will be, we hope, a successful transition. All the very best of British.
Hon TARIANA TURIA (Minister for Whānau Ora) : We want to congratulate the Hon David Carter as the Speaker-Elect to this House. One of the things we have noted is that you have had an ability to build relationships because of your thoughtful and constructive manner. I first came to know you, in fact, when I went with you on the Speaker’s tour to Europe with the Hon Doug Kidd. As a new member of Parliament at the time, I certainly appreciated the wonderful support that you and your wife gave to me and my husband, and I have never forgotten that. You have the assurance of the Māori Party that we will support you in your role.
I also want to take the opportunity to offer our very sincere respects to the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith as he leaves Parliament to go to be the High Commissioner in London. Probably we will honour you most of all for the respect that you have paid to Te Reo Māori in this House, but, more important, we remember that the first 20 kura kaupapa Māori that were established were in fact established by you when you were the Minister of Education. We do mihi to you for that, because we know that what you did in your time as the Minister of Education set the Māori education pathway on to a road of success. So we thank you and we wish you very well in your appointment to London. Nā reira, ka nui te mihi rawa atu ki a koe, e te rangatira. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
[And so, I appreciate you greatly, esteemed one. Salutations, acknowledgments, greetings to you and to us all collectively.]
Hon JOHN BANKS (Minister for Regulatory Reform) : I rise on behalf of the ACT Party and the people of the Epsom electorate to congratulate you on your election to this high office. I am losing a bench mate and I am losing a next-door neighbour, the bench mate who sat beside me here for the last 12 months—you, Mr Speaker-Elect. Thank you for all your sage advice and useful help. I was campaigning around the electorate when you first stood for Parliament. I have had the privilege of being here when you gave your maiden speech, and I said to you before you were dragged out of the chair kicking and screaming this afternoon that this would be a day in your life that you will never forget. What a high honour and what a great privilege you have been given.
I was here 10 Parliaments ago when that great Speaker Sir Richard Harrison was sitting in that Chair. We could tell he was in the Chair because of the wig he used. I am not sure whether you are going to be using that wig, Mr Speaker-Elect, or where it is at these days, but he was a fine Speaker from rural provincial New Zealand. What is it that they put in the milk of the cow farmers that makes such good Speakers—Sir Richard Harrison, Dr Lockwood Smith, and now yourself?
Dr Lockwood Smith, I want to say on behalf of the ACT Party congratulations on your outstanding job. Lockwood Smith is a much-loved member of the rural community in Northland, where he has served so well for so long. I think he has made a major contribution to this country. I thought he was a magnificent Speaker, and he is going to serve the interests of this country very, very well in London. We wish him well.
Mr Speaker-Elect, I wish you well for your next change in direction as Speaker. I am very hopeful that I will be in my 20th Parliament to see you back as Speaker at that time, or, at the very least, another fine New Zealander from rural provincial New Zealand.
Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Revenue) : Mr Speaker-Elect, can I warmly congratulate you on your election to this role. In fact, I think I have probably known you longer than anyone in this House. Our association goes back to Loreto College in Christchurch—primary school days—and then the years at St Bede’s. You are not unfamiliar with centre stage. You, after all, I recall, graced the boards at one stage as the lead in HMS Pinafore, and showed deft singing and acting skills, while I at the time, along with your brother, was left to be a mere hornpipe dancer in the chorus. Although some things have changed, what has not changed is the sense of fairness and compassion and genuine interest that you have shown over all those years. When you take on the role of the Speaker of our Parliament, that set of virtues will be more and more in need than ever before.
I should also say that you are part of the reason I left the Labour Party. Your election in 1994 in the Selwyn by-election precipitated within the Labour Party a series of moves that led to my departure a few months later, so I am grateful to you for that as well.
Mr Speaker-Elect, you bring to this Parliament a background of many years’ service, a wide range of community and other contacts, a real feel for the average New Zealander, a decent sense of what is right, and a good judgment of fair play. Although you might wish to be a referee in the sense that some others have been in the past, I caution you if I may on this occasion about emulating your predecessor Sir Gerard Wall. Sir Gerard had a particular way with questions. I recall on one occasion seeking to ask a supplementary question, getting up to my feet, calling on Mr Speaker, and being told “The member may not ask that question.”, even before I had actually asked it. When I protested he said the question was out of order. I think that there are some things that he did that are worth preserving; there are some that are not. I am confident that you have the sense of judgment, the experience, and the wisdom to do extremely well. I congratulate you on your appointment.
Can I also acknowledge Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith. He is one of the few survivors now of the class of 1984, and an outstanding member of Parliament in his own right. He is a man who, when he became a Minister—first of education, and then later of agriculture and international trade, and Associate Minister of Finance—showed a huge capacity for hard work, and a real commitment to, and flair for, the job. He is one who, sometimes in unpopular circumstances, made lasting and durable decisions. I think many of the features that my colleague to my right, Tariana Turia, referred to earlier in respect of Māori education and also education generally have their genesis in the tenure of Dr Smith as Minister of Education, and that is, after all, a tribute to his judgment as well.
As Speaker he has been one of the outstanding Speakers. He actually allowed the game to flow. He installed a sense of authority about what his expectations were of Ministers and members, and I think he has set—perhaps unwittingly—a very high bar for his successor and future Speakers to follow. He will be a fine representative for New Zealand in London, and I wish him extremely well in that regard. He may well find, of course, that his door is traversed by visiting members on a number of occasions, but I am sure he will always have a few moments to at least catch up with the news from home that they might bring.
So, Mr Speaker-Elect, can I conclude by warmly congratulating you again, acknowledging the role of your predecessor, and looking forward to serving under you during the balance of this Parliament.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : Mr Speaker-Elect, I want to join with the other members of Parliament who have congratulated you. The result, of course, was an expected result. I read on the New Zealand Herald’s website that the Prime Minister thought—well, it indicated that the Prime Minister thought that the vote was going to be at 3 o’clock, and I tweeted just to make sure that members did know that it was at 2 o’clock, to make sure that we had a fair result.
Mr Speaker-Elect, I look forward to working with you inside and outside Parliament. I think a number of members of the public have seen the work of Dr Lockwood Smith inside the Parliament, but I also want to acknowledge the work that he has done as the Speaker outside the House. In particular, there is the work that he has done on the review of the Standing Orders, which has meant that this place has flowed, without urgency, in a way that is much more logical, with the Government getting its business done and the Opposition more able to focus on the things that it opposes rather than on delaying, in the way that happened under urgency.
I would join with Peter Dunne in indicating that the people who have advised you to follow Dr Wall’s advice have been misleading you. If you want to go for a Canterbury Speaker, I would go for Kerry Burke. Kerry Burke was someone who knew how to play the advantage rule as a referee. I think he would be seen as a top test match referee, whereas I think Dr Wall could well have been someone seen as a cricket umpire from Pakistan or somewhere like that. He was one of ours, but I think it is fair to say that no one would accuse Dr Wall of being unbiased and fair.
Mr Speaker-Elect, I look forward to working with you, as closely as you wish.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : Mr Speaker-Elect, I rise as Leader of the House to offer my congratulations to you on your election to this position today. I think it is always important that you do have people who sit in the Chair who have the right sort of temperament, and a great feel for the way in which Parliament works. Just 2 years into your political career you became a whip. I know that you have taken a huge amount of interest in the processes of the House, and I am sure that you will have quite an instinctive feel for how the House needs to operate.
Given that we do operate under different Standing Orders these days, one of the things I would point to is the way in which the Business Committee now has, I think, a more meaningful role in the way in which the House decides how it will proceed. In that regard I take this opportunity to also thank Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith for the way in which he has conducted that committee. I say conducted because it is not really a chairman’s role; it is a body where there is consensus reached, and generally the acceptance is that where there is a broad view of representation from members, then that will be the way in which things proceed. I am sure that you will be able to not only pick up where Dr Smith has left off but also enhance the work that that committee does.
Dr Smith, I do wish you all the best for your appointment. I know that your door will be open in London. And although you have been an excellent Speaker, I do think that my former college mate is going to be just as good. Thank you.
BRENDAN HORAN (Independent) : Mr Speaker-Elect, I rise as an Independent member and congratulate you. I would also like to thank you for confirming that you will uphold the dignity and respect of this Parliament.
I would like to give special thanks to Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith. I think it is fair to say that I, possibly more than others in this Parliament today, have more reason to thank him for upholding the rights of members. To Lockwood I say thank you not only for protecting me but for the very human face and care with which you have accorded my wife and children, at a time of great difficulty and sadness for my family. I would wish to thank Lockwood for that from the bottom of my heart and from my family. I say arohanui and good luck—fair travels. Thank you.
Mr SPEAKER-ELECT: Members, can I take this opportunity to thank the leaders of the parties for their kind words. I will be eternally grateful to the Hon Trevor Mallard that so many members follow his tweets and made sure that all members were in the House, to ensure that I had the numbers. Thank you, Mr Mallard, for your contributions.
For those of you who can join me at the Governor-General’s this afternoon, I look forward to seeing you there.