The issue here is not whether Tau Henare would have succeeded in his bid to become Speaker of the House, the issue is whether or not he was given a fair opportunity to try to do so.
You'll know by now (unless your a new reader) that I'm not particularly sympathetic to the National Party, and I have no particular bias toward Henare either especially since he accused me of being a terrorist apologist. That aside, interference with a democratic process makes me furious and the PM has made it his modus operandi to interfere with democracy at every opportunity he gets.
Claire Trevett for NZ Herald reports:
Maori Party co leader Tariana Turia said the party had spoken to Mr Henare very early on before they knew the Government preferred someone else and believed the Government should choose the Speaker.
While Vernon Small in Stuff reported:
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...He said he expected the Maori Party to vote for the Government's nomination....*The person who was chosen as Speaker would need to be neutral, fair, experienced and acceptable across Parliament, Key said.
The Speaker of the House is voted in by Parliament, not the Government (although by default, the Government nomination would most likely win if they had a clear majority as they do at present). But in my opinion, the 'collective responsibility of cabinet' line amounts to no more than extortion. As Morgan Godfery pointed out on Twitter, its likely that if the Maori Party refused the PM's request and endorsed Henare for Speaker they would receive very little by way of funding (I suspect in particular for their Whanau Ora project) in the 2013 Budget. So when Tariana insists that the Government should choose the Speaker, she is either confused about the process of electing the Speaker or buckling to the downward pressure, i.e. allowing the Maori Party to be extorted in order to retain Whanau Ora funding.
Its interesting that the PM also insinuates that Henare were not fit for the position (see* above) presumably because the PM deemed he was either biased, unfair, inexperienced or unacceptable across Parliament. Its hard to see exactly who in Parliament that has not been Speaker could claim to be 'experienced' at being Speaker. As to the other attributes, I don't see how Henare would be any less neutral, less fair or less acceptable across Parliament than the Governments 'preferred' nomination - David Carter.
I smell institutional racism, but all those Tories out there will probably beg to differ, including the West Side Tory himself. And even if I am wrong, there is an agenda, and TV3 news picked up on it tonight - Nick Smith back in cabinet to fill Carter's vacancy.