25 Aug 2022

New Speaker Adrian Rurawhe stresses he will be 'fair' when presiding

9:11 am on 25 August 2022

Parliament's new Speaker, Adrian Rurawhe, says MP Gaurav Sharma's use of his welcoming ceremony as another avenue to make further accusations was "not very tasteful", but it would be "perfectly OK" during a general debate.

Speaker of the House Adrian Rurawhe

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Earlier this week, Sharma was expelled from Labour's caucus for what it said was repeated breaches of confidentiality and bringing the party into disrepute.

He was back in Parliament yesterday as a newly independent MP for the election of the new Speaker, as Trevor Mallard formally steps down from the role.

Using Parliamentary Privilege, Sharma accused Mallard of ignoring concerns he raised about bullying within Labour.

Rurawhe told Morning Report he suspected the former Labour backbencher did not know all of the rules about being relevant to the purpose of the debate at hand.

"What he said could've been said in a Wednesday General Debate and then perfectly OK, it's not very tasteful."

Rurawhe interrupted Sharma and pointed out the speech was not relevant because he did not want the debate to be derailed, he said.

"I had already said that I would be fair in my approach to presiding.

"The problem that I had that if it went too far down that track then I would have to allow, in fairness, for other members to respond."

Parliament elects Adrian Rurawhe as its new Speaker.

MP Gaurav Sharma speaks as Parliament elects Adrian Rurawhe as its new Speaker on 24 August, 2022. Photo: Phil Smith

On the other hand, Rurawhe said he would let debates "run a bit further" than his predecessor, who was heavily criticised by the Opposition for his way of running things and faced repeated calls to step down.

"We all have our different ways and different styles of presiding, that's going to be mine. I don't mind if there's more robust debate in the House but as I said yesterday to the House, as long as it's fair, you can be as robust as you like."

He also planned to stop MPs from dodging answers or waffling in questions.

"My expectation is that it will stop because the consequence for the government is that I will award additional supplementaries to the Opposition parties to further question the minister that's ... giving answers that are far too long.

"I'm going to be really clear that my expectations on non-political straight-up questions to ministers need straight-up answers.

"The Opposition can actually help themselves as well, by making certain that they're not making long, drawn out supplementary questions with more than two legs to them because that opens up the way for the minister to actually avoid answering."

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