Paula Bennett has returned to Parliament after earlier leaving in protest over Speaker Trevor Mallard’s new system of discipline.
Since becoming Speaker Mallard has disciplined MPs who interrupt other people asking questions or points of order by taking away questions from them.
Bennett walked out in protest after an exchange following Mallard taking away five questions from National in one go.
Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee objected and Bennett backed him up.
Brownlee said the Speaker was effectively hampering democracy by limiting the Opposition’s ability to question the Government.
Mallard pointed out that so far National had won out under the system because it had been given 22 more questions than it was due courtesy of interjections from the Government’s side.
Mallard said Bennett’s questioning amounted to “gross disorder”.
"If the member wants a further supplementary, she can take it, if not we'll move on," he said.
However, Bennett responded with: "Nah, I'm leaving", and was heard muttering "What a waste of time" as she left the House.
As she left, Mallard called out: "For how long?"
It turned out not very - Bennett returned to Parliament later, where she withdrew and apologised for her earlier remarks,
"I absolutely have no idea what I've said," she added."
Her apology was accepted by Mallard, who gave her some words of advice.
"What she should know is that when she is walking out of the house, she should not make parting comments of the negative type to the speaker. I know that well, I've done it before."