Margaret Wilson

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The Honourable
Margaret Wilson
DCNZM
Margaret Wilson.jpg
Margaret Wilson giving opening address for the Parliamentary Commissioner of Environment's 20th anniversary.
29th Attorney-General
In office
5 December 1999 – 28 February 2005
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Preceded by Doug Graham
Succeeded by Michael Cullen
27th Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
3 March 2005 – 8 November 2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Preceded by Jonathan Hunt
Succeeded by Lockwood Smith
Minister of Commerce
In office
26 February – 21 December 2004
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Preceded by Lianne Dalziel
Succeeded by Pete Hodgson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour Party list
In office
27 November 1999 – 3 October 2008
Personal details
Born (1947-05-20) 20 May 1947 (age 66)
Gisborne, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Political party Labour
Profession Academic

Margaret Anne Wilson DCNZM (born 20 May 1947) is a New Zealand academic and former politician. She was Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives during the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand. She is a member of the Labour Party.

Early life[edit]

Born in Gisborne, Wilson received her secondary education at St Dominic's College, Northcote. She graduated LLB (honours) from the University of Auckland. She has worked as a lawyer, a Professor of Law and Dean at the University of Waikato, and a trade unionist. From 1984 to 1987, she was president of the Labour Party, and from 1989 to 1990, she worked as chief political advisor to the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Palmer. She has also served on the Law Commission, and was appointed as a director of the Reserve Bank.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
1999–2002 46th List 9 Labour
2002–2005 47th List 9 Labour
2005–2008 48th List 3 Labour

Wilson entered Parliament as a list MP in the 1999 elections, and immediately gained election to Cabinet. Her portfolios included those of Attorney-General and Minister of Labour. She remained a list MP after the 2002 elections, serving as Attorney-General, Minister of Commerce, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Associate Minister for Courts, and Associate Minister of Justice.

Speaker of the House[edit]

In December 2004, the Clark Labour Government announced that they would nominate Wilson for the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position which would become vacant with the pending retirement of Jonathan Hunt. Previous speculation had focused on Mark Burton, the Minister of Defence. On 3 March 2005, Parliament elected Wilson as their new Speaker over candidacies by Clem Simich from the New Zealand National Party and Ken Shirley from the ACT Party. Wilson became New Zealand's first female speaker. After the 2005 elections, she was re-elected to the position unopposed.[1]

Her style was noticeably different from her predecessor Jonathan Hunt. In July 2006, National attempted a vote of no confidence in Wilson, after she refused to send a report on Labour MP Taito Phillip Field to the Privileges Committee, but Labour blocked the move.[2] The most serious challenge to her authority as speaker came on 26 August 2008, when Act leader Rodney Hide initially refused her order to leave the debating chamber – "I actually won't go now, Madam Speaker.". She told him to "think carefully", and applied to have Hide named after he left.[3]

Wilson announced in February 2008 that she would not be standing for re-election in 2008, and was considering "academia" rather than a diplomatic posting.[4] She finished by closing the 48th Parliament.[5]

Political views[edit]

Wilson strongly promotes various social causes such as feminism and multiculturalism, and opponents often painted her as Labour's most "politically correct" minister. She was the Minister responsible for the introduction of the new Supreme Court, which was controversial at the time, as well as changing the law on dividing property between partners after a separation, known now as relationship property law.

Return to Academia[edit]

Wilson established the University of Waikato School of Law as New Zealand's fifth law school in 1990. She was its first Professor of law and founding Dean (1990–1999) before becoming a Member of Parliament. After leaving Parliament, she resumed her academic career at the Waikato University law school, being appointed Professor of Law and Public Policy (2009).[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 48th Parliament formally opened". TVNZ. 7 November 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  2. ^ "National targets Wilson in Field saga". TVNZ. 27 July 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "When the jousting turns nasty". The New Zealand Herald. 27 August 2008. Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Dominion Post, 23 February 2008 (page A8)
  5. ^ "Parliament ends with small bangs and whimpers". The New Zealand Herald. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  6. ^ Founding dean returns to waikato, January 2009 (accessed 20 March 2009)

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Political offices
Preceded by
Doug Graham
Attorney-General
1999–2005
Succeeded by
Michael Cullen
Preceded by
Lianne Dalziel
Minister of Commerce
2004
Succeeded by
Pete Hodgson
Preceded by
Jonathan Hunt
Speaker of the House
2005–2008
Succeeded by
Lockwood Smith
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Anderton
President of the Labour Party
1984–1987
Succeeded by
Ruth Dyson