29 Jan 2013

Govt and Labour at impasse over new Speaker

8:06 pm on 29 January 2013

The Government and the Labour Party appear to be at an impasse over who should be Parliament's next Speaker.

Labour leader David Shearer expects government nominee David Carter to approach him, while Mr Carter says Labour is welcome to come and talk to him.

David Carter.

David Carter. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

MPs will decide on Thursday who will replace Lockwood Smith as Speaker. Dr Smith is set to be New Zealand's next High Commissioner to London.

Mr Carter, the departing Minister for Primary Industries, said on Tuesday that Mr Shearer could just as easily talk to him, and expects they will get together before Thursday.

However, Mr Shearer says Labour is waiting until then before deciding who it might vote for.

Under parliamentary etiquette, all MPs usually vote for the same candidate, but in this case Labour and New Zealand First are angry that they have not been consulted and are threatening to vote against Mr Carter's nomination.

Mr Shearer said the Government should approach Labour about the position before the vote.

He said the nomination of Dr Smith was discussed with Labour in advance, and it had confidence in him. "We haven't had that opportunity with this Government. Now if you want Parliament to work and function well, then it's good to have a Speaker than everyone has confidence in."

Prime Minister John Key said Labour has made it clear it does not support Mr Carter and instead prefers Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson. Mr Key said he accepts that parliamentary debate is likely to be more robust and bitter.

Meanwhile, New Zealand First and the Green Party say they won't vote for David Carter.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters had earlier complained the Government has been high- handed in not consulting other parties.

The Green Party is discussing the Speaker's role on Tuesday but co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman sought a meeting with Mr Carter before Christmas.

A vote will only be held, though, if another MP is nominated. In the absence of any challenger, David Carter would get the job by default.

Mr Carter said on Tuesday he isn't worried that he doesn't have universal support.