Long serving MP Trevor Mallard is to give up his Labour seat of Hutt South and stand only for the list at the next election.
He says he is doing this because Labour will nominate him as Speaker and he told them he had come to the view that it is very hard to be both an effective electorate MP and chair the house in an unbiased manner.
And he says the move will help the party with its process of renewal by bringing in a new MP.
That means that he is not expecting Leader Andrew Little who does not have an electorate, to stand in the seat.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King appeared to confirm this last night when she told POLITIK that she did not expect Mr Little to stand in any seat.
But the move also opens the way for one of National’s young rising stars, Chris Bishop, to possibly win the seat.
Mallard only narrowly won the seat over Bishop at the last election with a majority of 709 but the party vote went National’s way by 17,648 to Labour’s 10,093.
However Mallard said last night that a large recent poll showing an 8% swing to Labour in the seat since the last election reinforced his view that the seat would be held by Labour.
Mr Mallard said he had spoken to Party President Nigel Haworth and Leader Andrew Little about his decision and he was confident he would be put in a “winnable” position on the list.
Annette King however stressed that any final decision on Labour’s list would be made by its moderating committee.
Mallard is currently an Assistant Speaker in Parliament and has been making it clear that he would like the top job if Labour got back into power.
He was a controversial choice though, given his reputation as something of Parliamentary bad boy who had often been thrown out of the Chamber and once punched National MP, Tau Henare in one of the Debating Chamber lobbies over remarks Henare made about Mallard’s private life
But when he was nominated fopr Assuistant Speaker, Gerry Brownlee few MPs knew Parliament’s rules like Mallard did, saying: “He is at heart a true Parliamentarian.”
A former school teacher with a Commece degree Mallard was first elected for Hamilton West in 1984 but lost the seat in 1990 and worked in then Labour Leader Mike Moore’s office till he took over the Hutt South seat from Sonia Davies in 12993.
He is close to Helen Clark and served in various portfolios in her Governments including Education, State Services, State Owned Enterprises and Energy.
He is married to Listener political columnist, Jane Clifton.