The Herald reports:
Former MP Peter Dunne has weighed in to the parliamentary rancour swirling around Speaker Trevor Mallard’s rulings, accusing him of “compromising the presumed impartiality” of his role.
Dunne, who was a minister in Labour and National governments, said Labour member Mallard seemed “hell-bent” on changing the role of Speaker from its traditional independence from political bias.
Expressing his opinions in a political column, Dunne notes National has labelled Mallard a bully following the Speaker’s ejection of Opposition Leader Simon Bridges from the Housethis week and the sanctions imposed on National MP Nick Smith.
“Mr Mallard revelled in being Parliament’s resident bully boy when he was in Opposition. And he was good at it.
“But trying to reprise the role from the Speaker’s chair to protect the Prime Minister and batter the Opposition is not acceptable. If he carries on this way, he will achieve the dubious honour of being remembered as the Speaker who brought Parliament into disrepute.”
I think Trevor Mallard has done some good things as Speaker. He has helped make Parliament more family friendly, has encouraged Parliamentary Service to stop gagging former staff with NDAs etc. And some of the changes he has made in the House have been good. He has also been excellent at forcing Ministers to do proper and timely replies to written questions
But I do think he has a visceral dislike of certain MPs, and despite his best efforts, he lets his that dislike affect his judgement in the House.
Dunne also criticised Mallard for seemingly having assumed the role of the protector of Jacinda Ardern.
“Faced with a new government and a totally inexperienced Prime Minister he seems to have taken on the role of her protector in the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate, Question Time in particular.
“While his paternalistic approach towards the Prime Minister may be understandable in the circumstances, it is, at the same time, not only utterly patronising, but, worse, it is completely inappropriate and totally compromising of the presumed impartiality of the Speaker.”
Peter Dunne is no longer in politics. His views may be coloured by his past, but he actually served in two Labour and two National Governments so I think his views on this carry some weight.