Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she still has faith in the Speaker, but she has voiced “serious concerns” about his behaviour last night.
Speaker Trevor Mallard told MPs last night in a heated discussion that the man he wrongfully convicted of rape in 2019 was guilty of a serious sexual assault. Mallard was then labelled a bully by National MP Chris Bishop, who said his “display of petulance and contempt and hate” made him unfit to be Speaker.
Mallard’s behaviour “did not meet the standards I expect” Ardern said in a statement issued this afternoon.
“I also do not believe it 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.”
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, House Leader Chris Hipkins called for all MPs to “step back” from the dispute, but said Labour still had faith in the Speaker.