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Call to dismiss the Speaker. 14 February 2021

Call to dismiss the Speaker. 14 February 2021

The Speaker of the House of Representatives / Te Mana Whakawā o te Whare for the 53rd Parliament of New Zealand is The Rt Hon. Trevor Mallard. 

He is known as The Right Honourable Trevor Mallard.

 (Her Majesty The Queen has approved the following rules for the grant, use and retention of the title “The Right Honourable” in New Zealand:

  1. The title “The Right Honourable” (abbreviated to “The Rt. Hon.”) is granted to and may be used and retained for life by those persons who currently hold, and those persons who after the date of the signing of these rules are appointed to, the following offices:
    1. The Governor-General
    2. The Prime Minister
    3. The Speaker of the House of Representatives
    4. The Chief Justice)

Mr Mallard was first elected as an MP in 1984, more recently as a list MP and previously as an electorate MP for the Hutt South, Pencarrow and Hamilton West electorates. He was an Assistant Speaker in the 51st Parliament (2014 to 2017).

The Speaker is essential to the running of the House and has to command the respect of all MPs.

The problem that I have is that in my opinion, Trevor Mallard has proved himself to be neither Right nor Honourable and in fact I fail to understand how he can possibly command the respect of all MPs as required by his role.

Particularly when you consider that he has denigrated one of his parliamentary staff by naming him as a rapist when in fact he did not have any proof that this was fact and then for a number of years he has been spending (over three hundred thousand dollars in legal fees) public monies trying to defend the indefensible long after he was aware that he was wrong in making that statement.

He has effectively destroyed that person’s life and more than likely totally ruined his further employment opportunities for life.

Mr Mallard’s role as Speaker of the House of Representatives includes the following:

Ceremonial Role

The Speaker is the spokesperson for the House on ceremonial and formal occasions, for example, when an address is presented to the Crown. The ceremonial part of the role adds considerable dignity to the proceedings of the House.

Maintaining order in the House

In addition to calling who will speak next, the Speaker is often asked to decide ‘points of order’. This is when a member asks whether the rules of the House (Standing Orders) are being observed correctly.
Standing Orders are the written rules of conduct that govern the business of the House. If a member feels one of these 402 rules has been breached by another member, he or she stands and raises a point of order. The Speaker must then decide whether the complaint is just.
The Speaker has the power to suspend the sitting of the House in the case of grave disorder. If a member is wilfully disobedient the Speaker can suspend the member from the House. This is called ‘naming’.

Chairing select committees

The Speaker chairs three select committees:

  • Business Committee
  • Standing Orders Committee
  • Officers of Parliament Committee

The Speaker also chairs the Parliamentary Service Commission, which is responsible for the administrative support that members require.

Representing the House

All of New Zealand’s relations with other parliaments are carried out through the Speaker’s office. It is usual for delegations from other parliaments and ambassadors to call on the Speaker. The Speaker also assists our parliamentarians when they visit other parliaments.

Given that part of his role is as chair of the Parliamentary Service Commission, I fail to see how Mr Mallard can possibly continue in the role of Speaker of the House given his total disregard of the truth and his lack of remorse in failing to either retract his statements about or to apologise to one of the parliamentary staff, until he had no other option.

Yes he apologised but not as soon as he knew he was wrong and when he should have. If nothing else does so, this action (or lack of action), is fatal to his role as Speaker whose job it is to oversee the rules and behaviour of the House of Representatives for New Zealand.

Surely he has set, what can only be described as a terrible example, when it comes to following the rules and exhibiting good behaviour.

Labour’s Defence of Mallard has shown that they are less concerned about honesty or decency than they are about themselves and protecting their own.

Here we have a speaker that ejects a Maori Party member from the house because he is not wearing a tie but the same speaker ignores the ethical option when it comes to his own personal conduct in naming this person and then failing to admit his wrongdoing.

Yet still our Prime Minister states that this is not reason to remove him from the post of speaker.

Well in my opinion she is right. It is not enough to remove him from the post.

No it is enough that he should be totally removed from government.

The Prime Minister has removed other Ministers from their portfolios for making mistakes or breaching rules, but here we have a Speaker who has carried on trying to defend himself from his wrongful allegations even after he knew that they were in fact wrong. Surely that must come under the heading of misleading the Prime Minister & parliament (or did the Labour Party already know that he had made a statement that was untrue).

So it is time that the Prime Minister should remove him from at least the office of Speaker of the House and in fact should ask for his resignation from parliament as well.

He no longer, in my opinion, has any social licence to remain in the role of Speaker, due to his failures to act in this matter, or in fact to remain as a serving Minister of Parliament.

Andy Loader

Co-Chairman P.L.U.G.