National list MP Tau Henare has dumped plans to seek nomination as Speaker, blaming the Maori Party for not having "the balls" to stick with an agreement to back him.
He said he had a written assurance from Maori Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell that the party's three votes would be for him.
"I don't think they have the courage or to put it quite bluntly the balls to follow up on their agreement with people, and that disturbs me."
He thought their own fear, that they were going against the Government, got to them.
But the Speaker's job should be elected from the floor of the House.
The Maori Party's votes would have given him the numbers, with his own vote, if he could also persuade the Opposition parties to back him.
He said as Speaker he wanted to open the old Upper House, the legislative chamber, as a debating chamber while the House was being used, and to have an internal Speaker's tour rather than the practice of the Speaker leading a group of MPs on an overseas tour.
On the way to the National Party caucus today he said he would accept a nomination for Speaker if it was made but he would not be putting his name forward.
In a sideswipe at leading contender David Carter, Henare said he thought he would make a good Speaker and it was unfair because he wanted the job, whereas the person who would get the job did not.
Carter said it would be "a great honour to have the job" but repeatedly refused to say he wanted it.
It is understood Carter has come under pressure to take the job, which would see him relinquish his role as minister of primary industries.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my ministerial role. I think I have done a good job. having said that if the prime minister asked me to be Speaker it would be a great honour.
It is understood Prime Minister John Key invoked Cabinet collective responsibility as leverage on Maori Party ministers and co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples to back his choice of Carter for Speaker.
A vote to replace current Speaker Lockwood Smith, who is expected to be appointed High Commissioner to London, is expected in late January.
Key this morning refused to confirm there was a vacancy.
"In principle there are a number of people who might be interested."
He said he expected the Maori Party to vote for the Government's nomination.
"Many, many people" had been beating a path to his door since a possible vacancy had been announced.
The person who was chosen as Speaker would need to be neutral, fair, experienced and acceptable across Parliament, Key said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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