The controversy over rape allegations made by the Speaker against a former staffer and his subsequent apology has again exploded in Parliament, with Trevor Mallard now accusing the man of sexual assault.
Appearing before the House as the minister responsible for Parliamentary Service, Mallard mounted a defence of his actions which resulted in a defamation settlement costing taxpayers more than $330,000, and an apology for distress and humiliation caused.
He apologised to the man last December and said it was "incorrect" of him to give the impression the man had been accused of rape.
The Opposition has repeatedly tried to have him removed, saying Mallard continued to make allegations of rape when he knew that was not the case.
In Parliament this evening, he pushed back against claims he'd ruined the man's life.
"That man's life was destroyed when he sexually assaulted a woman. That's what did it... I will support the woman and what she said, I will support the investigation that found that he seriously assaulted her... and I will support the police and their investigation and the results of that."
National MPs Chris Bishop and Michael Woodhouse questioned Mallard on why he continued to mount a defence against the defamation case, after he'd told a parliamentary committee he thought he'd made a mistake.
"He told us in committee he knew he'd made a mistake within 24 hours, and the question for the Minister is why he then did not clean up the matter immediately, and instead spent 18 months fighting a legal battle that has ended up costing the taxpayer over $340,000 and rising," Bishop said.
Mallard said he'd apologised for the mistake but it didn't "erase the face that there were serious allegations from staff members that had to be taken seriously".
Bishop told the House Mallard should be removed as Speaker.
"When we look back on this period an tawdry, sordid period in this parliament led by this disgrace of a Speaker, I think we will look back with shame.
"That 10 minute contribution will probably be the thing that sinks him as the Speaker".