Collins: Mallard’s 'unfit' to be Speaker after 'shocking display' accusing man of sexual assault

Source: 1News

National leader Judith Collins says she’ll be writing to the Prime Minister today to once again ask for Trevor Mallard’s resignation as Speaker. 

It comes as Mallard last night in the House, using parliamentary privilege, accused a man — the same person he falsely accused of rape in 2019 — of sexual assault. 

“Trevor Mallard displayed all of the complaints we’ve had about him last night. He used parliamentary privilege to further, basically, to destroy a man. He accused him again now of sexual assault,” Collins said on Breakfast this morning. 

“Trevor Mallard is simply unfit for the role because of his temperament and his inability to rise above a situation.”

She said it was her “honestly held opinion” that “what we saw last night was the worst I’ve ever seen from any parliamentarian in my almost 20 years in Parliament”. 

“It was a shocking display.”

It was especially shocking because he was launching “vicious” attacks on National MPs Michael Woodhouse and Chris Bishop, she said. 

“I’ve never seen any parliamentarian behave like I saw last night.”

Collins added it was inappropriate for Mallard to use his parliamentary privilege to continue the issue. 

It comes after Mallard issued a public apology to the former staffer he accused of rape, and a $158,000 ex-gratia payment was made to the person to settle the 18-month defamation case. A further $175,000 was spent on Mallard’s legal fees.

“I just couldn’t believe he continued to do this,” Collins said. 

Because parliamentary privilege applies to statements made by MPs in the House, Mallard is immune from any court action for his newest accusation.

Mallard was appearing before the Committee of the Whole House as the minister responsible for parliamentary service yesterday. 

National MPs Woodhouse and Bishop questioned why he continued to mount a defence against the defamation case despite admitting to a select committee in December he knew “within 24 hours” he was wrong about accusing a man, a former parliamentary staffer, of rape. 

“I have apologised for a mistake which I made. I shook the man's hand in September. The paperwork was completed in December. But my mistake doesn't erase the fact that there were serious allegations from staff members that had to be taken seriously,” Mallard said in response.

He then acknowledged former MPs Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett for their work improving Parliament's working conditions following the Francis review , which found widespread harassment in Parliament.

When Mallard continued by saying “some people are working on making this place feel safe, and then there are others”, Bishop could be heard laughing. 

Mallard said: “The member might think that serious sexual assault and not supporting the victims of it is funny, but I don't. Mr Bishop, this is not a school debating society.”

“Answer the questions,” Bishop said. 

Mallard then continued: “I want to go to some of the questions that members have asked. The member is right. I have indicated to him that I worked out within about 24 hours that there had been an association with an individual for whom it was inappropriate. 

“I do not agree with the characterisation that Mr Bishop has given that particular individual, and my comments that it ruined a person's life, that I caused the heartbreak and agony for the complainant … That man's life was destroyed when he sexually assaulted a woman. That's what did it.”

He said he believed the woman's allegation against the former staffer, and said he would "support the investigation that found that he seriously assaulted her".

Mallard said he'd not spoken to the woman who made the allegation. 

Bishop said Mallard’s comments would “probably be the thing that sinks him as the Speaker”.

“Let's be very clear about what's just happened here: the minister responsible for the parliamentary service has used privilege to show that the settlement he reached with the plaintiff is not worth the paper it's written on,” Bishop said. 

Police told 1 NEWS this morning: "The matter was referred to police and fully investigated. Following a review of the evidence no formal charges were filed."