9 May 2014

MP's behaviour appalling - Brownlee

12:55 pm on 9 May 2014

Labour MP Trevor Mallard is being accused of appalling behaviour in his questioning of Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse over access to Government ministers.

Mr Mallard was thrown out of the Parliament's debating chamber on Thursday for the second time this week.

Michael Woodhouse

Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

He had asked Mr Woodhouse whether businessman Donghua Liu offered him cash when they met and discussed immigration last year - something Mr Woodhouse emphatically denied.

Mr Woodhouse also appealed to the Speaker of the House to rule the question out of order on the basis it was suggesting corruption.

Mr Mallard and another Labour MP, Chris Hipkins, were subsequently thrown out of the chamber after a heated exchange with the Speaker.

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said Parliament was not a place to besmirch people's reputations.

"It's fictitious and he has no evidence of it. It is just typical Trevor Mallard spray and walk away tactics, and see where the damage can be done," Mr Brownlee said.

Mr Mallard later refused to apologise for his actions, saying it was his place as an MP to ask such questions.

"My question was ruled initially, and correctly, by the Speaker to be within Standing Orders," Mr Mallard said.

"The fact that he changed his mind later, I'm not going to apologise for his mistake when I still know that my question was in order."

Mr Woodhouse has been defending his attendance at a Chinese Cabinet Club fund raiser last year and said it was entirely appropriate to discuss immigration-related issues at it.

The minister also met Donghua Liu - the businessman at the centre of Maurice Williamson's resignation - last year.

Mr Woodhouse said they talked about possible changes to the Investor Plus category, under which people can get residency in exchange for investing $10 million.

"I have no knowledge of who donates to the party," he said.

"What I can tell you is that, on immigration policy specifically, I have listened to thousands of people, both about their experience and on their ideas, whether they were the poorest refugees or wealthy migrants who came in under the Investor Plus category."

Mr Woodhouse said he would not lower the $10 million Investor Plus threshold but was considering some changes.

Labour claims people who donate to the National Party appear to have more access and influence with the Government than other people do.

But the Government rejects that, saying it is merely listening to people's views and that other parties, including Labour, have hitched up with wealthy donors.