Judith Collins dreams of bringing back Lockwood Smith as Speaker

Judith Collins wants former Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith back.

National is unhappy with how the current speaker - Trevor Mallard - is running Parliament's Question Time.

Deputy leader Paula Bennett said it's like taking part in "some weird, warped quiz show". She stormed out of Parliament earlier this week, saying it was a "waste of time".

And Gerry Brownlee has written to Mr Mallard accusing him of "promoting stories about events which cannot be verified", after the Speaker claimed a National MP shouted "stupid little girl" at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ms Collins told The AM Show on Friday Mr Mallard should run a tighter ship.

"We all [want to] go back to the days of Lockwood Smith. He was very tough on us as ministers. He made us not just address questions, but to actually answer them."

She accused Mr Mallard of going "back to the old days of Margaret Wilson and Jonathan Hunt, of just saying you have to address the question".

"A minister can stand up and say, 'Well in relation to that question, blah blah blah." That's addressing the question. I think I prefer the better answer coming through. It's better for the minister as well."

Dr Smith - Speaker from 2008 until 2013 - received praise for his handling of Question Time, requiring ministers to actually answer the questions they were being asked.

Lockwood Smith.
Lockwood Smith. Photo credit: Reuters

"Lockwood Smith was not afraid to allow Opposition members a little more scope when ministers were clearly being evasive, or not on top of the detail," Labour's Chris Hipkins told RNZ in 2017.

New Zealand Herald political reporter John Armstrong said "you could see the jaws of National Party colleagues collectively dropping in shock" when in 2009, Kate Wilkinson dodged a question about the minimum wage and Dr Smith told her to answer it again.

Mr Mallard introduced a disciplinary system in November to try and quieten the House, saying it was getting hard to hear questions amid the hubbub. He takes supplementary questions away when MPs interject, giving them to their opposition. Ms Bennett was questioning this policy when she stormed out.

Labour MP Stuart Nash, appearing alongside Ms Collins on The AM Show, defended Mr Mallard's approach.

"We do know the rules, Trevor's outlined them pretty clearly. If you're asking a question, people have got to keep quiet."


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