Prime Minister John Key says he is expecting an acrimonious start to the political year – and the gloves are already off over the election of Parliament's new Speaker.
Labour has indicated it will not support National's nomination of Primary Industries Minister David Carter as Speaker when Lockwood Smith vacates the chair this week.
The Speaker's role is always contested and this year's nomination has seen more jostling than usual with Carter said to be a reluctant nomination, while National backbencher Tau Henare has been angling for the job over the opposition of his colleagues.
Henare stirred the pot further this morning after being asked how Carter would go in the role.
His response was "who?", before adding: "S ... that'll start the year off well."
Labour leader David Shearer said the Government had not consulted Labour over the nomination.
"Until that happens the gloves in a sense are off," he said.
Shearer said the issue was about the functioning of parliament and Labour wanted to be taken seriously over who should be the referee - Key was not respecting the convention of consulting the Opposition.
Key said Labour had already made its feelings about Carter's nomination clear. He expected the vote to be split but that was not unusual.
"I've seen it before in my time in Parliament," the prime minister said.
In 2004 National rejected the nomination of Labour candidate Margaret Wilson.
Key said he also expected it be a more acrimonious political year, saying: "That's what happens the nearer you get to the finishing line."