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Horan on Election of Speaker

Horan on Election of Speaker

29 January 2013

Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith
Chair of the Business Committee

Dear Mr Speaker

I intend to seek leave that any election of a Speaker during this 50th Parliament be conducted by way of a secret ballot. This would allow all members - and New Zealand - to be sure that a Speaker succeeding you will enjoy the unquestioned confidence of the House.

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.

New Zealand is now virtually alone amongst Westminster democracies in electing a Speaker with a vote under a three-line whip. Canada first elected a Speaker by secret ballot over 25 years ago, and Britain has adopted that. I attach an article by the Clerk of the House of Commons in Canada. (Canadian Parliamentary Review http://www.revparl.ca/29/3/29n3_06e_AOBrien.pdf )
At present, New Zealand is sadly even behind Australia.

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.

You may wish to put this letter before the Business Committee. In seeking a secret ballot, I would intend that Standing Orders 15 to 25 would otherwise apply.

Yours sincerely

Brendan Horan


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