Costs to taxpayer will rise

Stuff reports:

The man who sued Speaker over a “rape” comment has an ongoing employment case against Parliamentary Service, it has been revealed.

Having had the Speaker settle a defamation case for wrongly calling him a rapist will only help his employment case. So overall costs to the taxpayer could end up well over $400,000 – maybe even higher.

Mallard said he almost immediately regretted describing the series of sexual assault complaints in a review of parliamentary culture as “rape” – but he did not apologise for the matter sooner as it soon became an employment issue and then a legal case.

It seems to be an immediate apology the next day would have been better than an 18 month process costing taxpayers $330,000.

Barry Soper writes:

Truth is more likely that he withdrew his rape claim now because if he did it last year chances are he wouldn’t have survived a no-confidence vote in his Speakership. New Zealand First wouldn’t have supported him.

Next year he’ll survive a vote with Labour’s majority and with mother of kindness, well-being and transparency Jacinda Ardern saying he simply made a mistake and he’s the man for the job. The man he maligned is out of a job and if now suffering ill health.

No kindness for the poor former staffer whose life has been pretty much destroyed.

The Herald editorial says Mallard should go:

The entire saga also injures the so-called MeToo movement, a rallying of support for genuine victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment where people publicise allegations of sex crimes committed by powerful and/or prominent men. Any false rape claim undermines the real hurt and pursuit of justice in genuine cases. One from such high office, only more so.

Mallard’s situation will be an ongoing distraction and impediment to the second term of Government for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. For a Government needing sharp focus on recovery from a pandemic and a stated desire for transformation, continuing in this role must surely be untenable.

And HDPA writes:

But what makes this worse, if that’s even possible, is that Mallard did not admit there was more money due when he was asked about it.

In my opinion, he misled the public with his answer.

He was asked by Chris Bishop if there was “any further money to be paid”, and Mallard answered “there is no further money to be paid”.

But then, just over a minute later, the chief executive of Parliamentary Services, Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, admits “there is still a claim against the Parliamentary Service”.

Michael Woodhouse asks: “Is the committee now hearing that $330,000 is not necessarily the end of the matter in terms of cost to the taxpayer?”

Gonzalez-Montero answers, “Yes.”

She concludes:

We can now add to his list of transgressions: attempting to mislead the public.

He will continue to be problem for Labour, because now that the opposition and taxpayers know there is more of our money to be spent, we will be asking about it next year.

So, as much as he’s tried to kill off this story before Christmas, it now almost certainly will drag into the next year unless he does the dignified thing and leaves the job.

I would be amazed if Mallard loses the confidence of Ardern over this. They have an incredibly strong personal relationship, and I can’t imagine a scenario in which she withdraws support.

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