National leader Simon Bridges was kicked out of Parliament by Speaker Trevor Mallard today for suggesting the Speaker was biased.
As happens regularly, Mallard lost patience with Bridges during Question Time when ministers are answering Opposition questions.
Mallard gets irked by interjections such as "you're talking nonsense," or "you're wrong," because in theory, such comments are directed to the Speaker even though they are aimed at the relevant minister.
As happens regularly, interjections were particularly vigorous during questions to Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.
And it was Bridges intervention in a question to Sepuloni that drew the ire of Mallard.
Speaker Trevor Mallard accused Simon Bridges of being deliberately disorderly. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National's Louise Upston pointed to an incorrect answer she had given yesterday when she claimed the previous Government hadn't done anything to get drivers' licences for young people.
Sepuloni said debate in Question Time was robust and the current Government was spending more.
"I will say the previous Government did do something in this space – that is my correction but we are doing more than they ever did."
Sepuloni then answered questions about the Mana in Mahi programme designed to get young people off benefits and into work and training.
Upston: "Why has she delivered 10 times as many people onto the dole as into Mana in Mahi."
"The member uses numbers in a funny way, in a very very funny way," Sepuloni said and to uproar in the Opposition.
She said the Government was ahead of its target in the Budget to get 2000 young people off benefits and into work and it was proud of its results.
Simon Bridges: "Would the minister rather we don't use numbers any more in our questions."
Mallard said Bridges knew the question was out of order and that she did not have responsibility for Opposition questions "and I just can't understand why he is deliberately so disorderly."
Bridges said he had asked a perfectly legitimate question because the minister had effectively said she was not too keen on numbers.
Mallard stood up and said he had had enough. When Bridges didn't sit down the moment Mallard stood and forced Bridges to withdraw and apologise for not sitting down quicker.
Mallard said he had been annoyed at Bridges repeatedly interjecting in the second person (using "you").
Bridges, who sits on Mallard's left, asked Mallard to go and listen to the tape of question time "because it does just rather seem that your left ear is rather more acute at picking these things up."
Mallard: "The member will leave the chamber."
Shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee raised a point of order and said Bridges' questions had not been unreasonable.
Bridges was allowed back in three questions later to listen to National deputy leader Paula Bennett give a speech in the general debate.
It is the third time Mallard has ordered Simon Bridges out of the House.