5 May 2021

Labour's Chris Hipkins calls on all MPs to 'step back' after unruly scenes in Parliament

10:47 am on 5 May 2021

Senior Labour MP Chris Hipkins has denounced the unruly scenes in Parliament last night, saying they did not reflect well on anyone involved.

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Chris Hipkins said Labour maintains confidence in the Speaker of the House. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Speaking to reporters this morning, Hipkins - who is leader of the House - called on all MPs to "step back" from the dispute, but said Labour maintained confidence in the Speaker.

In a fiery debate in Parliament last night, Speaker Trevor Mallard told MPs that the man he wrongly accused of rape in 2019 was guilty of a serious sexual assault.

National MP Chris Bishop, in turn, labelled Mallard a bully and said his "display of petulance and contempt and hate" made him unsuitable to be Speaker.

Hipkins told media he sat through last night's debate and disapproved of the conduct of all involved.

"I don't think it reflected well on Parliament as a whole. I don't think it reflected well on pretty much anybody that was taking part in the debate."

Hipkins said the debating chamber was not the best place to deal with "these types of issues".

"I don't think that was a victim-centric approach. I don't think it was fair on the person who the allegations were against either.

"I think the whole of Parliament needs to step back from this... Continuing down this road isn't the appropriate course of action for anybody at Parliament."

Hipkins said he would raise the debate with Mallard, but: "the Labour Party continues to support the Speaker".

He said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would make further comments on behalf of Labour later in the day.

National Party leader Judith Collins this morning told Morning Report Mallard had proved he was "temperamentally unfit" for the position.

"He continued down the path of using Parliament to defame a former staff member to whom he has already had to apologise publicly and to whom the taxpayer had to fund or pay out a large amount of money," she said.

Collins said it was important for people to go through a proper process when dealing with allegations.

"That is why we have courts, that's why we don't have kangaroo courts where people never get a chance to have their say.

"What I saw last night was a Speaker who is entirely temperamentally unsuited for the role."

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