The Herald reports:
Nelson MP Nick Smith has been suspended from Parliament for 24 hours and will have his pay docked after Trevor Mallard “named” Smith, prompting the senior National MP Gerry Brownlee to suggest Mallard was a “bully”.
The dispute happened in the last question of the day in Question Time when Smith accused Mallard of being ” soft on drugs, like the Government.”
Smith had been questioning Police Minister Stuart Nash in relation to the death of Matthew Dow, 23, who was killed at Appleby near Nelson on New Years Eve in 2017 by a driver high on meth and cannabis.
Smith asked Nash if he stood by his statement to TVNZ last December when he had said a discussion document on roadside drug testing had been approved by cabinet and would be made public early in 2019.
And it seems no such document yet exists.
Smith then sought leave of the House to give priority next members’ day to a bill that would have introduced drug-testing for drivers.
But Mallard, in a highly unusual move, did not put the leave motion (in which the objection of any MP can block a move).When asked why by Smith, Mallard said that he himself would not grant leave for it.
Smith accused Mallard of opposing moves to keep drug-drivers off the road. Mallard said he was very unhappy with Smith’s approach.
The Speaker can constitutionally object to leave, like any other MP. But it is very unwise to do so, as the Speaker is becoming a participant, rather than the referee.
Mallard ordered him out of the House and when Smith yelled out “soft on drugs like the Government, Mallard ordered him to return and moved a motion naming Smith.
It is against the rules to abuse the Speaker, so some sanction against Smith is not unexpected. But again it is unwise for the Speaker to personally object to leave against an MP’s request for leave.
Once Smith had left the chamber, Brownlee asked if he could make a late submission on the Speaker’s inquiry into bullying in Parliament. No, was the answer.
Outside the House, Smith said he was gob-smacked at what had happened.
He was incensed that Mallard had refused to put leave on his bill.
“I’ve been in Parliament for nearly 30 years. It’s for the Speaker to put it to the House to make a decision to object to that Bill being introduced, not for him to override it.”
Smith later accepted Karen Dow’s petition to Parliament seeking urgent legislation to introduce random roadside drug testing “to reduce the escalating road toll from drugged drivers, which resulted in 79 fatal crashes in 2017 and exceeds the number caused by those impaired by alcohol”.
That’s a stunning statistic.
The suspension of Smith follows Mallard kicking out National Party leader Simon Bridges from the House in Question Time yesterday.
Bridges had moaned in response to an answer from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Mallard accused him of making barnyard-like noises.
Last week Mallard compared Hamilton East MP David Bennett to a primate he had recently seen in Rwanda (a gorilla).
Again unwise for the Speaker to compare MPs to primates.