Te Tai Haauuru MP Adrian Rurawhe will be elected as the new Speaker of Parliament today, and National Party leader Christopher Luxon says his party will support the election and will not turn anyone against him.
Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe is set to be elected as Parliament’s new Speaker today and National Party leader Christopher Luxon said his party will support the election and not put up anyone up to stand against him.
Labour MP Rurawhe will be nominated by the government as the new Speaker of Parliament at 2pm following the resignation of outgoing Speaker Trevor Mallard at 1.45pm.
Rurawhe is Deputy Speaker and will be the second Māori to serve as Speaker – the first being the late Sir Peter Tapsell, who held the position under Jim Bolger’s National Government from 1993 to 1996.
Mallard will remain on the backbench before leaving in October to prepare for his new role as New Zealand’s ambassador to Ireland.
Rurawhe, who was welcomed in parliament this morning with whānau and friends, said it was “a little overwhelming but a real honour” to be the speaker after serving as assistant and deputy for the past five years.
He said his priorities were to continue the “family-friendly environment” of parliament and a strong interrogation of the government.
“I’m absolutely committed to giving the Opposition and the entire House every opportunity to hold the government accountable, to hold the government accountable.”
When asked how he differs from Mallard, Rurawhe said his approach will be based on his past experience.
“I’ll bring my life story, my way of doing things, my experience, including being chairman of iwi for 10 years, which was a challenge in itself and I learned a lot of skills.”
He noted that he has the potential to allow freer debate in the House of Representatives than his predecessor.
“I think it could happen, but it needs to happen in a way that still preserves the rights and privileges of the House, it can’t just be laissez-faire for its own sake.”
The election of the Speaker will include brief speeches by Rurawhe and party leaders before Rurawhe travels to the Government House to be formally sworn in by the Governor General.
It is an informal convention for a newly elected Speaker to feign an unwillingness to do the job, and pretend to resist when the Government whips escort them to the Speaker’s chair, although Mallard did not follow that tradition himself.
It dates back to the days when the Speaker reported the views of Parliament to the British monarch – with the risk of punishment if the monarch was unhappy.
Luxon said he welcomed Rurawhe in the role.
“I think he has the good characteristics of what I see as a good leader. One is that he takes responsibility for personal humility and low ego, but has a great deal of determination to make sure parliaments and democracy work well.
“So we look forward to change and hope he does well.”
Luxon said Mallard had a mixed record as speaker — saying Mallard welcomed and supported new MPs and made parliament more family-friendly.
“But National has serious concerns, we have two motions of no confidence and I think his attitude is very uneven. I think even if I go back and look at the debates over the last few years, lives have been lost. This place, so I Hope we get more freedom in future debates.
That’s why I think we’re very much looking forward to Adrian taking over as Speaker. “
He noted that Mallard would expel or punish MPs for laughing or interjecting, saying it had lost the vitality of the debate.
Since 2017, Mallard has had troubled relations with the National Party during his tenure as Speaker, including several motions of no confidence against him. National has often accused Mallard of bias in his decisions and of controlling the debate too much.
National rejects Mallard’s false claims about a parliamentary worker’s involvement in rape and his handling of parliamentary protests in February and March – including the use of music and sprinklers, following an inquiry into parliament’s workplace culture Attempt to drive protesters out.