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Speaker of the House

Speaker of the House

&

Trespass from Parliament

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. 

Due to his position as Speaker of the House or Representatives, he is known as The Right Honourable Trevor Mallard.

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 spent (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.

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 stated that this was not reason to remove him from the post of speaker.

Given that part of his role is as chair of the Parliamentary Service Commission Mr Mallard must surely also have some responsibility for the current situation where two former MP’s, (Matt King & Winston Peters) one being the leader of a party that is contesting the next general election, have been trespassed from the grounds of Parliament for the next two years.

On Monday night, Mallard said the decisions about trespass were being made by Parliamentary security, not him but surely as Chairman of the Parliamentary Services Commission he must have ultimate power of approval for this trespass decision.

In fact Mr Mallard’s claim to have not had input into the decision to issue the trespass notices is wrong. As shown below the Speaker has responsibility for this issue and if he did not have any input then this is tantamount to admitting he has not been doing his job:

Can I be trespassed from Parliament and other public buildings or places?

Cases: Police v Walker [1977] 1 NZLR 355 (CA); Police v Beggs [1999] 3 NZLR 615 (HC)

Yes, you can be trespassed from public buildings and places such as Parliament government department offices, schools, libraries and museums, in the same way that a private homeowner or business can trespass you.

However, unlike being trespassed by a private landowner or occupier, you’re protected to some extent by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act if you’re trespassed from public places. The decision to trespass you must be reasonable taking into account your rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights.

Can I be trespassed from Parliament grounds?

Cases: Police v Walker [1977] 1 NZLR 355 (CA) – Police v Beggs [1999] 3 NZLR 615 (HC)

Yes, Parliament’s Speaker of the House can trespass you, exercising their rights as the legal occupier of Parliament grounds. But unlike a private homeowner or company, they’re restricted by your rights under the Bill of Rights, and so their decision to trespass you must be a reasonable one.

 This is because in trespassing you the Speaker is exercising a public function, and so is restricted by the Bill of Rights, the same way other public or government officials are bound by the Bill of Rights.

You can challenge the Speaker’s decision in the courts if you think it’s unreasonable, either by applying for judicial review of the decision in the High Court, or, if you’ve been arrested and charged, by challenging the Speaker’s decision at your trial.

It is in fact the Speaker of the House that has the power to trespass persons from Parliament and the grounds. Any such decision must be reasonable under the Bill of Rights and in my opinion this decision to trespass both former MP’s could not in any way be seen to be reasonable and to my way of thinking seems more like an act of revenge for daring to oppose the party line and visit the protest camp.

Asked about the trespass notices on Tuesday morning, both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and National leader Christopher Luxon said they would not comment as it was a matter for the Speaker.

So 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. One who by his position has effectively overseen the issuing of trespass notices to former MP’s yet denies any input into that decision.

He no longer, in my opinion, has any social licence to remain in the role of Speaker; due to his failures to act on his wrongful allegations even after he knew that they were in fact wrong and also this ridiculous situation where former MP’s are trespassed from Parliament for visiting the protestors; or in fact to remain as a serving Member of Parliament.

The Prime Minister has removed other Ministers from their portfolios for making mistakes or breaching rules, so given all of the above it is way past time that the Prime Minister should remove him from at least the office of Speaker of the House and in fact in my opinion should ask for his resignation from parliament as well.

Is the Prime Minister’s failure to act against Mr Mallard truly about supporting his position or just another desperate act of a party leader trying to retain the trappings of power for her party?