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Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, in New Zealand, refers to 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.
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 behavior 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.
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 is 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 separate occasion. A full list of Speakers is below.
|Name||Took Office||Left Office||Speaker's Party||Governing Party|
|7||George O'Rorke , 2nd time||1894||1902||Liberal||Liberal|
|Charles Statham , continued||1928||1935||None||Liberal|
|Bill Barnard, continued||1940||1943||Democratic Labour||Labour|
|Roy Jack , 2nd time||1976||1977||National||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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