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National remains critical of Trevor Mallard after 'publicity stunt' walkout

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Thursday, 6 December 2018, 9:36a.m.
Only a few National MPs remained in Parliament yesterday after a mass walkout. (Photo / NZ Herald)

National is still taking aim at Speaker Trevor Mallard, but everyone else seems to think they are in the wrong.

The Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee and his leader Simon Bridges were ordered from the Chamber yesterday after Bridges accused Trevor Mallard of "protecting" the Prime Minister from tough questioning.

The ejections prompted all National MPs to walk out of the Chamber.

Brownlee told Mike Hosking Mallard's treatment is uneven.

"The Speaker seems to have a different standard for her than he does for some other Ministers, and certainly a greater tolerance for her lack of answer to any explanation that might be in our questions."

Brownlee declined to say if Simon Bridges comment, 'Here comes the protection', was appropriate.

"You'd have to ask if it was acceptable the day before when a similar line of questioning was being asked and the Speaker moved similarly to shut that line of questioning down. Should he have referred with the somewhat colourful and derogatory language that he did?

He wants to know why the Government is being so secretive about Karel Sroubek, which was the source

Brownlee says that he wants to Parliament to be a robust place.

"If you're going to turn it into a timid little place where only the questions the Speaker finds acceptable to be asked of the Ministers, that's bad for our democracy."

Labour says the walkout was a publicity stunt, as National struggles to deal with constant leaks to the media.

Brownlee brushed that off as any concern.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the protest fell flat and was hardly a show of loyalty in Bridges' leadership.

"What was the most damaging was the way they all left after him. They went out in drips and drabs. It looked like the first loyal group of about six went out, and then about 12 decided they should be loyal, and the rest decided they better show some loyalty as well. It was seriously disorganised."

Ohariu MP Greg O'Connor was almost giddy about the incident.

"A party that spent all day yesterday opposed to anything related to industrial action, staged a walkout. I love irony, I love this place."

Wellington Barrister Graeme Edgeler says the National party leader's implication that Mallard is biased is a clear violation of Standing Orders.

"You can disagree with the Speaker but you can't call their impartiality into question. A common consequence in the past is you're out."

Edgeler says Mallard could have asked Bridges to withdraw and apologise - but he opted for a red card.

"Are MPs allowed to call the Speaker biased in the way Simon Bridges did? There not. And the consequence historically has been kicked out of the house for a short time."

He says if National does have issues with Mallard, it can raise them more formally, by putting a motion of no confidence forward on the order paper.



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