Parliament's worst kept secret of 2012 is official - Speaker Lockwood Smith is heading to London to take up the position of New Zealand High Commissioner.
The House has risen for the year, MPs are on holiday and Smith has put his role as Speaker of the House aside to move to the United Kingdom.
Smith's upcoming move was already widely known, but Prime Minister John Key formally announced the appointment today.
"Lockwood Smith has had a distinguished political career and his nomination is a mark of the high esteem in which he is held," Key said.
"I wish Lockwood and his wife, Alexandra, all the best for this new appointment."
Smith has been a Member of Parliament since 1984 and was the MP for Rodney from 1996 until 2011, when he was elected under the National List. His fellow MPs elected him as Speaker in 2008 and again in 2011.
It is understood that MPs will vote in a new Speaker at the end of January.
Dr Lockwood Smith is one of Parliament's longest-serving MP's. Since the National-led Government was formed after the 2008 General Election he has served as Speaker of the House, and has won praise from all sides for his even-handedness in the role. He has been one of the very best Speakers in the forty-plus years during which we have had more than a passing interest in politics.
Whoever succeeds Dr Smith as Speaker has a hard act to follow. His ability as Speaker may not be truly appreciated until after he has departed. We wish him well in his new role where he will continue to represent New Zealand with distinction.