National will hold the Speaker to account

The National Party will call Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard before a Select Committee this week to answer questions about the more than $330,000 of taxpayer dollars spent on settling a legal dispute he created, National’s Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says.

The Speaker of the House is accountable to the Governance and Administration Select Committee. Committee chairperson Barbara Kuriger will call a meeting this week so the public can get some answers about the taxpayer-funded pay out that resulted from Mr Mallard making false accusations against a former Parliamentary employee.

The total amount of public funds spent as a result of the Speaker’s public comments in May 2019, which resulted in a public apology for ‘distress and humiliation’, was $333,641.70.

“So far there has been no apology to Parliament, no statement, and no accountability. This is not good enough,” Mr Bishop says.

“If Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party, who ultimately must decide if they have confidence in the Speaker, won’t hold him to account then National will.”

One of the issues National intends to question the Speaker about is the reports that, in August, he expanded the rules for MPs claiming legal costs so that damages and settlements can come from the public purse. This occurred while Mr Mallard was still being sued himself.

“We believe taxpayers deserve some answers as to why they are footing the bill for Mr Mallard’s reckless comments, rather than him, and why he thinks it’s acceptable for him to continue in the job,” Mr Bishop says.