9 Feb 2021

National: Trevor Mallard's behaviour should not go unpunished

8:24 am on 9 February 2021

The National Party intends to call a motion of no confidence in Speaker Trevor Mallard when Parliament resumes for the year today.

Speaker Trevor Mallard being questioned at a Select Committee on 16 December, 2020.

Speaker Trevor Mallard being questioned at a Select Committee on 16 December, 2020. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Mallard has been under pressure since it was revealed taxpayers stumped up more than $300,000 to cover a legal dispute, prompted by his false claims an accused rapist was working at Parliament.

Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop said National has drafted a motion that expresses no confidence in Mallard and the party will seek leave for it to be debated and voted on this afternoon.

But today's move will likely just be symbolic. Labour holds the majority and the party has indicated it will vote against the motion - meaning it won't be debated.

No caption

Chris Bishop says Trevor Mallard's behaviour cannot go unpunished Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Māori Party, ACT and the Greens will determine their positions on the motion at their caucus meetings this morning.

All political parties should reconsider if they're comfortable with Mallard retaining his role as Parliament's Speaker, Bishop said.

"We do not think Trevor Mallard's behaviour should go unpunished... he has damaged the integrity and the dignity of the Parliament and we think that other parties, particularly the Labour Party because they have the majority in the Parliament, should reflect on his behaviour and whether or not they are comfortable with him continuing to be the Speaker of the Parliament," Bishop said.

Mallard refused to comment when contacted by RNZ about the motion of no confidence.

He publicly apologised for his comments about the former staffer in early December and again when he appeared before the Governance and Administration Select Committee later that month.

At that same select committee meeting it was revealed the former staffer has an ongoing employment case with Parliamentary Services at taxpayers' expense.

Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said at the time the case had cost taxpayers about $37,500 so far.

Mallard also told the Select Committee hearing he realised "probably within 24 hours" after making the false claim about the staffer that he had made a mistake.

Bishop said this entire situation could have been avoided if Mallard had admitted within 24 hours what he'd said was a mistake.

Ahead of this afternoon's motion, Bishop encouraged Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to consider what she would have done if it had been a National Party Speaker who had falsely accused a former staffer of rape.

"Just contemplate what would happen if a Speaker from the National Party had publicly called someone falsely a rapist and then spent 18 months fighting a legal case only to accept at the tail end of Parliament, 18 months later, that he'd got it wrong and made a mistake within 24 hours.

"I suspect if Jacinda Ardern was honest with herself she'll reflect on the fact that she would be doing exactly what we're doing right now, which is calling for the Speaker to resign or for the Parliament to express no confidence in him," Bishop said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs