Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives

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In New Zealand The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the individual who chairs the country's legislative body, technically known as the House of Representatives; but more generally known as Parliament. The Speaker also has a number of significant functions related to parliamentary matters.

Contents

Roles

The Speaker's most visible role is that of presiding over parliamentary sessions. This consists of overseeing the order in which business is conducted, and determining who should speak at what time. The Speaker is also responsible for granting or declining requests for certain events, such as a snap debate on a particular issue. The Speaker has certain powers available to ensure reasonable behaviour by MPs, including the ability to remove disruptive MPs from the debating chamber. Also, the Speaker has a position at the front of Parliament, presiding over all other MPs (including the Prime Minister). The Speaker also makes rulings concerning affairs of parliament as a body (such as many of its dealings with the Governor-General), and administers the parliamentary complex itself.

Election of Speaker

The Speaker is always a Member of Parliament, and is elected by Parliament at the beginning of a parliamentary term. By convention, the Speaker is elected unopposed - any party able to form a government is presumably able to have its candidate installed as Speaker whether there is opposition or not. Historically, a Speaker lost the right to cast a vote, except when both sides were equally balanced. Now, however, the Speaker votes in the same way that any other MP does. In the past, the Speaker's lack of a vote created problems for a governing party - when the party's majority was small, the loss of the Speaker's vote could be problematic.

Non-partisan

The Speaker is expected to conduct the functions of the office in a neutral manner, even though the Speaker is generally a member of the governing party. Only three people have held the office despite not being so. In 1923, Charles Statham (an independent, but formerly a member of the Reform Party) was backed by Reform so as not to endanger the party's slim majority, and later retained his position under the Liberal Party. In 1993, Peter Tapsell (a member of the Labour Party) was backed by the National Party for the same reason. Bill Barnard, who had been elected Speaker in 1936, resigned from the Labour Party in 1940 but managed to retain his position.

Current incumbent and deputy and assistants

The current Speaker is Margaret Wilson, a member of the Labour Party, which is the dominant party in the governing Labour/Progressive coalition. There are also a Deputy Speaker (Ann Hartley, Labour) and two Assistant Speakers (Ross Robertson, Labour, and Clem Simich, National).

Past and present Speakers

Twenty-six people have held the office of Speaker since the creation of Parliament. Two people have held the office on more than one occasion. A full list of Speakers is below.

Name Took Office Left Office Speaker's Party Governing Party
1 Charles Clifford 1856 1860 None None
2 David Monro 1861 1870 None None
3 Dillon Bell 1871 1875 None None
4 William Fitzherbert 1876 1879 None None
5 George O'Rorke 1879 1890 None None
6 William Steward 1891 1893 Liberal Liberal
7 George O'Rorke, 2nd time 1894 1902 Liberal Liberal
8 Arthur Guinness 1903 1913 Liberal Liberal
9 Frederick Lang 1913 1922 Reform Reform
10 Charles Statham 1923 1928 None Reform
Charles Statham, continued 1928 1935 None Liberal
11 Bill Barnard 1936 1940 Labour Labour
Bill Barnard, continued 1940 1943 Democratic Labour Labour
12 Frederick Schramm 1944 1946 Labour Labour
13 Robert McKeen 1947 1950 Labour Labour
14 Mathew Oram 1950 1957 National National
15 Robert Macfarlane 1958 1960 Labour Labour
16 Ronald Algie 1961 1966 National National
17 Roy Jack 1967 1972 National National
18 Alfred Allen 1972 1972 National National
19 Stanley Whitehead 1973 1976 Labour Labour
Roy Jack, 2nd time 1976 1977 National National
20 Richard Harrison 1978 1984 National National
21 Basil Arthur 1984 1985 Labour Labour
22 Gerard Wall 1985 1987 Labour Labour
23 Kerry Burke 1987 1990 Labour Labour
24 Robin Gray 1990 1993 National National
25 Peter Tapsell 1993 1996 Labour National
26 Doug Kidd 1996 1999 National National (in coalition)
27 Jonathan Hunt 1999 2005 Labour Labour (in coalition)
28 Margaret Wilson 2005 (present) Labour Labour (in coalition)

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