Sunday, October 23, 2005

Purgewatch: Ominous signs for the Speaker

In a Sunday Star-Times article featuring a climbdown from Winston Peters about the right of his party to sit in opposition, I found the following paragraph interesting:
The Leader of the House, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, said if the matter was not resolved before parliament sits next month, the new Speaker would decide where MPs sat.
New Speaker? In 2002, there wasn't any doubt after the election that Jonathon Hunt would return as Speaker while in 1993, Peter Tapsell had publicly accepted the job as Speaker before he was voted in. Lastly there is the example of Kerry Burke who in 1984 declared his interest to be Speaker to avoid a loss of face for being fired from Cabinet. Given these examples, I can't see any reason for Michael Cullen to be so coy. I conclude that Helen is on the lookout for a new Speaker that would be acceptable to Winston Peters if she hasn't found one already. If true, that would be a humiliating demotion for Margaret Wilson who was dismissed from Cabinet in the guise of being made speaker earlier this year.