The shift followed the swearing-in of three new cabinet ministers at Government House on July 5.
Clerk of Parliament John Tangi has selected CIP Member of Parliament Toka Hagai to attend an international conference in Indonesia as deputy Speaker, after having previously chosen Demo MP Tetangi Matapo to travel to the Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference in New Zealand earlier this month, also as deputy Speaker.
Hagai will attend the Pacific Parliamentary Partnership on Human Development and Maritime Sustainability, along with Parliamentary Services’ Editor of Debate, Isaac Solomona. The two will leave for Indonesia this Friday and will return on a week later.
Explaining the predicament he faced when he needed to quickly choose a deputy Speaker to attend the Indonesia conference, Tangi said the earlier decision to send Matapo to Wellington in the same role had been made when it became urgent to give the New Zealand organisers the name of an MP to attend the conference of Speakers and Clerks.
Matapo had been chosen because the preliminary election result announced by the Chief Electoral Officer showed the Democratic Party had more MPs than the CIP, Tangi said.
“I immediately touched base with William Heather, the parliamentary leader of the opposition and asked about a possible Speaker or deputy Speaker (to represent) the Demo Party.
“I was advised by him that perhaps MP Tetangi Matapo could be the deputy Speaker, but this was to be confirmed when the new government was in place provided it was a Demo government.
“On the basis of this I forwarded MP Tetangi’s name to Wellington. Whoever inserted ‘interim’ deputy Speaker before Tetangi’s name, it was not me.
“Nevertheless, I proceeded to process the necessary information because of the urgency of sending this to Wellington.”
When Chief Electoral Officer Taggy Tangimetua had announced the final vote count, the Demos still had more MPs than the CIP, Tangi said.
“However, the CIP surprisingly managed to gain majority over the Demo Party by swearing in three new Cabinet ministers and were able to continue governing the nation.
“On the basis of this, MP Toka Hagai (was able to) become the deputy but this will be formally confirmed in parliament.”
As in the case of the Wellington conference, the organisers of the Indonesian meeting urgently required the name of either a Speaker or a Deputy Speaker, Tangi added.
“I needed to move fast, hence I decided MP Toka Hagai and our Editor of Debate, Isaac Solomona, should go to Indonesia.
“This was my decision and it had nothing to do with the CIP or Demo.
“Because CIP is currently the government, there will only be one deputy Speaker. But all of this has to be formalised in parliament.
“Should the government change after the Electoral Court determination of the various petitions then obviously it’s a different story.
“We’ll wait and see.”