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Greg O’Connor to be new Deputy Speaker

Labor backbench MP and former Police Association President Greg O’Connor will be nominated Parliament’s new Deputy Speaker when the House meets this afternoon

The MP for Ōhāriu, Greg O’Connor, will become Deputy Speaker after first being elected to Parliament in 2017, following 21 years as the head of the Police Association.

Before that O’Connor had served almost four decades as a police officer.

When Parliament resumes at 2pm today, O’Connor will be nominated as the Government’s selection for Deputy Speaker after his predecessor, Adrian Rurawhe, was elected Speaker on Wednesday.

Rurawhe and O’Connor’s promotions follow the resignation of long-serving MP Trevor Mallard, who finished up as Speaker on Wednesday and will head to Ireland in the new year for a diplomatic posting.

Rurawhe’s welcome in the debating chamber, and first time in the chair as speaker-elect, was a significant day for him and his whānau who had traveled from Ratana and beyond to be in the house for the occasion.

Speaker of the House, Adrian Rurawhe, was elected in Parliament on Wednesday. Photo: Jo Moir

Leaders of all parties spoke warmly of the fairness and robust debate they looked forward to him bringing to the chair, and the mana he already brought to the role.

It wasn’t long before Rurawhe, who is MP for Te Tai Hauāuru, had to rise to his feet and cut off a member when he allowed new Independent MP Gaurav Sharma to take a call.

Sharma, who was expelled from Labor’s caucus on Tuesday, started making further allegations and claims in the chamber – this time against Mallard – before Rurawhe asked him to resume his seat.

Speaking to Newsroom afterwards, Rurawhe said he anticipated Sharma would seek a call and while he was willing to allow him to do so given robust debate was welcome, he stopped him when it went beyond the purpose of the debate.

That purpose was to welcome Rurawhe, and he acknowledged it made him somewhat uncomfortable to have to point out that it was his day, not Sharma’s.

The associate speakers, National’s Ian McKelvie and Jacqui Dean – both set to retire at next year’s election – and Labour’s Jenny Salesa remain unchanged.

O’Connor’s role as Deputy Speaker will see him fill in for Rurawhe as Speaker when he’s away at Question Time, and take the chair during other business in the House.

In his time as Police Association President, O’Connor was routinely involved in the politics of policing, which saw him call for the arming of police in New Zealand.

O’Connor defeated National MP Brett Hudson to win the seat of Ōhāriu after long-serving incumbent United Future’s Peter Dunne withdrew from the contest shortly before the election.

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