Media on Mallard

A roundup of media takes on the Speaker.

Barry Soper:

He was told time and time again he’d ruined this man’s life, destroying his career and making him fight a case Mallard knew from the beginning he himself could never win.

The only concession he made was the man’s life was ruined alright, but only when he committed a serious sexual assault against his accuser. Mallard’s pathetic and unbelievable excuse for wrongly calling him of being a rapist was that he didn’t understand the definition of the word.

His outburst this week calls into question whether he understands what a serious sexual assault is. The parliamentary worker was accused of hugging his colleague from behind, a complaint laid years after it allegedly happened. A secret inquiry was held, involving parliamentary lawyers among others, who found the accusation was without substance.

Jo Moir:

After a select committee appearance late last year where Trevor Mallard was interrogated at length by National MPs Chris Bishop and Michael Woodhouse, it became clear to senior ministers and the Prime Minister’s office that the Speaker couldn’t keep his temper in check. …

Mallard’s behaviour at the select committee had already raised a red flag with senior members of the Government, prompting them to sit down with him ahead of Tuesday night’s debate.

It’s understood he was counselled to take a more moderate stance and only talk to points that had already been canvassed in public.

Lines of attack were rehearsed to ensure Mallard was on script.

But within minutes, Mallard had thrown that advice out the window, as he used the protection of parliamentary privilege to launch into a claim of an (alleged) sexual assault, and to purposely antagonise Bishop.

Henry Cooke:

That hatred was centre-stage as Mallard and Bishop went at it at each other on Tuesday night. Mallard, who has mostly kept from outwardly attacking his attackers in recent months, used the absolute legal protection of parliamentary privilege to say that he believed that this man sexually assaulted a colleague and has no place working in Parliament. He took the case for a defence that he has long wanted to make far further and with far more political venom than was needed – it’s easy to understand why Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern found the need to reprimand him today. His hate for Bishop dripped off every comment he made; as did Bishop’s hate for Mallard.

Kate Hawkesby:

The role of Speaker of the House requires a level head and sense of authority. A bit of mana, it commands respect.

And that’s why I’m finding the hot-headed unprofessional behaviour of Trevor Mallard increasingly frustrating.

In fact, it’s beyond frustrating; it’s actually just downright rude.

He is a law unto himself and is abusing his power.

His outbursts and the tone he is setting inside Parliament are beyond the pale. Even the PM has said so. Which, by the way, is a first, a sitting PM criticising a sitting Speaker has never happened before, that’s how serious this is.

But her expressing concern is not enough, he needs to go. And can she have it both ways? Express concern over him, but then still give him her confidence. Which is it?

Claire Trevett:

The key duties of a Speaker are to maintain the dignity and order of Parliament, and to exercise impartiality.

Last night, the Speaker himself was breaching all three. Consider Parliament brought into disrepute.

It is against the rules to even insinuate a Speaker is not impartial – but that rule comes with a responsibility on the Speaker to at least try to achieve impartiality.

Where a Speaker is openly hostile to Opposition MPs, that is a hard rule to adhere to. …

If Mallard’s resignation is due, after last night it is not for the reasons National has set out. It is not because of the defamation settlement or the length of time it took for him to admit he was wrong, or because he wrongly accused a man of rape.

It is partly because he used Parliamentary privilege to make further claims about a man who has little recourse to challenge those claims publicly.

It should be because last night he abandoned any pretence of impartiality and the dignity of his role.

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