Barry Soper: Trevor Mallard raises more questions than he answers

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 16 Dec 2020, 7:58PM
Trevor Mallard. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Trevor Mallard. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Barry Soper: Trevor Mallard raises more questions than he answers

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 16 Dec 2020, 7:58PM

OPINION:

Trevor Mallard did nothing to cover himself in glory when he fronted up to his colleagues. He's now shrouded in a veil of mystery posing many more questions than he answered.

Parliament's Speaker tried to baffle his inquisitors with verbosity over how he's improved the culture of Parliament which he painted as a cesspit of bullying and sexual harassment.

Using the sensational Debbie Francis shock, horror, probe report as a platform for his claims of serious sexual assaults being committed in the place he set out to create the impression that we now all feel safer in our workplace.

Not one of the serious sexual assaults resulted in the police taking them further. If the one, involving a cuddle which was found to be unsubstantiated, and which Mallard saw as rape, was as bad as it got then you would have to wonder what all the fuss was about.

The man who stood accused and was sent packing was never interviewed during the Francis inquiry. And how did Mallard know about the complaint anyway? We were told the inquiry was strictly confidential and all material presented to it would be destroyed. Don't forget he wasn't conducting the inquiry.

Mallard told a shocked Parliamentary select committee that he knew within 24 hours that his rape claim was false. Well if that's the case why didn't he retract the claim and save the taxpayer almost $334,000? He said he didn't do that because the inquiry into the cuddle was being reinvestigated. That was reinforced by the head of Parliamentary services which carried out the original inquiry and found it was unsubstantiated.

But the man himself told me he only knew the inquiry had been reopened when he was sent packing on the day the rape claim was made.

Truth is more likely that he withdrew his rape claim now because if he did it last year chances are he wouldn't have survived a no-confidence vote in his Speakership. New Zealand First wouldn't have supported him.

Next year he'll survive a vote with Labour's majority and with mother of kindness, well-being and transparency Jacinda Ardern saying he simply made a mistake and he's the man for the job. The man he maligned is out of a job and if now suffering ill health.

Before his peers, Mallard was in a hole and just kept digging.

He was asked whether the money which had been paid out to settle his defamation suit was the end of the matter when it came to the taxpayer coughing up and said, yes, that was it.

Just over a minute later a bombshell exploded with Gonzales admitting the former staffer was taking action against his old employer, presumably to get a justified settlement for public humiliation and the loss of his job. Already the taxpayer-funded legal bill this action's reached $37,000 which will be a fraction of what it'll likely to cost, with the man's legal expenses and a settlement.

With Parliamentary Services not being subject to the Official Information Act, chances are we may never know what the final taxpayer bill is. So much for transparency.

Mallard's excuse for the rules being changed to make the taxpayer pick up the tab for his uncontrolled outburst was lame. Because he was facing the defamation action, that he must have known he would lose considering he knew the rape claim was wrong, he handed responsibility for the rule change over to his deputy, former National MP Anne Tolley.

It removed any conflict of interest, he claimed. Yeah right.