MPs challenge Mallard over timing of his false rape accusation apology

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Dec 2020, 3:19PM
Some MPs are calling for Speaker Trevor Mallard to publicly disclose how much taxpayer money was used on lawyers and mediators involved in the issue. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Some MPs are calling for Speaker Trevor Mallard to publicly disclose how much taxpayer money was used on lawyers and mediators involved in the issue. Photo / Mark Mitchell

MPs challenge Mallard over timing of his false rape accusation apology

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Dec 2020, 3:19PM

MPs are challenging Speaker Trevor Mallard in the House over the timing of his apology to someone he falsely accused of rape.

MPs are upset that his statement of apology came out at the same time as the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 terror attack.

But Mallard said that he released his apology "as soon as was practical".

And some MPs are calling for Mallard to publicly disclose how much taxpayer money was used on lawyers and mediators involved in the issue.

Before Question Time today, National's shadow leader of the House Chris Bishop asked Mallard if he intended to make a statement in Parliament in regards to the apology.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, distributed to members of the press gallery, Mallard apologised for the "distress and humiliation" his statements caused to the individual and his family.

That followed comments he made in May last year to RNZ, when he said: "We're talking about serious sexual assault, well that, for me, that's rape ... that is the impression I get from the report, yes".

At the time, he was talking about findings in the Francis Review which revealed there had been a number of instances of sexual assault in Parliament.

In yesterday's statement, Mallard said he got it wrong.

A statement in the House would mean the apology would be permanently on Parliament's written record.

But Mallard was blunt when responding to Bishop's question – "the answer to that is no".
"Part of the agreement is that I made no further comment."

Then Act leader David Seymour had a go and pressed Mallard on his response.

Mallard pointed out that he has two roles: One as Speaker of the House and the other is the Chair of the Parliament Service Commission.

He would not address the issue of his apology in the House as it related to his latter role.

But Seymour pressed on – "I think the House would like an explanation, and I urge you to reconsider".

"You hold yourself out as a Speaker who campaigns against bullying and harassment," Seymour said.

"There are serious concerns raised in the media and I think you owe it to the House, regardless of any private agreement you have in any capacity to give an explanation of why you choose to release this information, while the country was embroiled and digesting the Royal Commission of Inquiry."

In reply, Mallard said the matter in question reached finalisation yesterday – "I released the statement as agreed.".

"The matter was agreed on Thursday or Friday last week and I have released it as soon as was practical."

Before going into the House, Greens co-leader James Shaw said it was his party's view that New Zealanders should know how much taxpayer money was spent on the issue.
Seymour had the same view.