I was recovering from my trip to Fiji and so missed this article by Jane Clifton about National’s next Speaker:
The parliamentary speaker’s chair will be vacant early next year when Lockwood Smith is posted to our High Commission in London, and though to say speculation about who will be our next caped crusader is feverish would be an overstatement, there is a degree of jockeying for the position among National’s seniors.
Not all the jockeying, however, is aimed at securing the position. As a result of a flying wedge interrogation operation I conducted at one of those inside-the-beltway Wellington parties the other night with two fellow senior members of the press gallery, I can be reasonably certain that the front-runner is not the widely-tipped David Carter, but Maurice Williamson. By a process of gall, guile, charm and flattery, we have reliably deduced from our research that, while both ministers have been sounded out for the role, one is having a renewed lease of life in his portfolios and wants to keep them, while the other gentleman, not to put too fine a point on it, has not.
I can just imagine Jane leading the flying wedge.
Not, as a regular parliamentary sketch-writer, that I’m self-interested or anything, but a Williamson speakership would guarantee a lively and entertaining parliament, as the Pakuranga MP has a ready and anarchic sense of humour, and what Dr Brian Edwards likes to call the performance gene.
He’s understood to be very enthusiastic about the idea –as he is about much in life, the early-90s nickname Tigger having stuck fast. Unless he affects a personality change, he would be the most colourful presiding officer in living memory, and would likely build on Lockwood Smith’s change of the role, to a less legalistic style of applying the standing orders.
Williamson would also, again not to put too fine a point on it, not necessarily need a microphone as all past speakers have done.
The only questions are: how Williamson might manage to keep a straight face during the arcane daily ritual whereby the speaker is escorted at funereal pace by liveried officials carrying the ceremonial mace into the House each day; and how might the former Air New Zealand IT wallah part with his beloved iPad for the hours he would be required to spend in the chair?
There are some others who would eye the job with envy:
However, other speakership possibilities are experienced assistant/deputy speaker MPs, Eric Roy and Lindsay Tisch. It’s not clear whether either has yet been shoulder-tapped to express an interest in the job, but if not, at least in the latter case, it may be because the MP’s short stature would require him to over-use the speakerly warning,”I’m on my feet!”
There is at least one other wild card contender, who falls into the realm of a would-be poacher-turned-gamekeeper. No, not John Banks – that I know of, anyway – but watch this space.
Lindsay should just retire, his days of glory faded a long time ago. He is just holding up a safe blue seat for a star of the future.
I’m interested in who her wild card may be.