5 May 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has 'serious concerns' about Trevor Mallard's conduct

3:18 pm on 5 May 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she retains confidence in the Speaker, but has expressed "serious concerns" to him about his conduct last night.

Speaker Trevor Mallard

Speaker Trevor Mallard Photo: Dom Thomas

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 then labelled Mallard a bully and said his "display of petulance and contempt and hate" made him unsuitable to be Speaker.

In a statement released this afternoon, Ardern said Mallard's conduct "did not meet the standards I expect".

"Nor do I consider it to have met the needs of the victim in this situation.

"The Speaker acknowledges he did not meet his own standards either."

She added that she also believed the behaviour of members of the opposition was "inappropriate".

"Issues of this serious nature should not be litigated in Parliament in such a manner. It was wrong. Parliament rightly needs to set a standard for others to follow."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media after a worker at Auckland Airport tested positive for Covid-19.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Ardern has asked the Speaker to reconvene a cross-party working group to consider how the Behavioural Standards can be given practical effect when MPs are dealing with sensitive staff conduct matters such as sexual assault.

"Parliament must continue to maintain its right to hold government ministers and the Speaker to account for actions. However, this can be done in a robust and respectful appropriate.

"I urge all parties and MPs to adopt a bipartisan approach to ensure Parliament is a good and safe place for staff to work," Ardern said.

Earlier today, Chris 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.