Seymour compares outgoing speaker Trevor Mallard to Trump
ACT leader David Seymour has compared outgoing speaker Trevor Mallard to former US President Donald Trump, claiming Mallard “devastated the speaker’s office and the institution that gave him an enchanting life.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a “small” cabinet reshuffle on Monday following the resignation of Mallard and Minister Kris Faafoi. Mallard will take up a diplomatic post in Europe.
The Speaker made global headlines in March after his controversial handling of the Mandate protests after he made the decision to turn on Parliament’s sprinklers and blast music to deter protesters, followed by issuing trespassing notices to former politicians.
It’s not the only controversy surrounding the Speaker after his 35 years in Parliament. He was sued after falsely accusing a Parliament staffer of rape in 2019.
Mallard, along with all the MPs involved in the reshuffle, were invited to appear at breakfast. All declined.
While Seymour had lobbied the National Party to have Mallard removed from his role in his handling of the protests, he described the speaker’s departure as a “sad affair” in an interview with Breakfast.
“I call him Trevor Trump. The thing about Donald Trump is that he benefited tremendously from growing up in American democracy, then he destroyed the institutions that gave him the life he had. Trevor Mallard has benefited enormously from Parliament, it looks like he’s going to have one last winning lap as an ambassador of sorts,” he said.
“He destroyed the Speaker’s office and the institution that gave him an enchanting life.”
Seymour wished Mallard “on a personal level, well for himself and his family, but the way he behaved in the Speaker’s office will take a long time to recover.”
Adrian Rurawhe, currently Deputy Speaker, has been nominated to replace Mallard as Speaker.
“I wish Adrian Rurawhe well in trying to restore the dignity of the office because it will be a big task,” Seymour said.
READ MORE: Speaker Trevor Mallard and MP Kris Faafoi retire from politics
He called Rurawhe “a good guy and frankly not an ass, which is what we need right now”.
“I think Adrian Rurawhe will actually do a pretty good job, but let’s see who runs first.”
In a statement Monday, Mallard said he had notified the governor general of his intention to step down as speaker.
“I had the honor of being unanimously elected Chairman of the House of Representatives three times. It has always been interesting and most importantly, deeply satisfying.
“I informed the Prime Minister in 2020 that I would prefer to continue during this parliamentary term. I asked Adrian Rurawhe to accompany me and represent me extensively inside and outside the house. He did an excellent job.
“I will not comment further on my future role at this time, but announcements may be made,” Mallard said.
Also on Monday, Ardern said Mallard would end his tenure as spokesman in mid-August.
“After the 2020 election, Trevor told me he wanted to step out of the speaker’s role during this term to give someone else the opportunity and take on new challenges for himself. To this end, he has worked closely with Adrian. He will leave the chair in mid-August and take up a position in Europe from the beginning of 2023.
“Trevor will be the third of our final five speakers to represent New Zealand in a diplomatic post abroad.”
National MP Chris Bishop told Breakfast the Speaker had “slandered the very prestigious office that is Speakership”.
“We’re not sorry to see him go.”
Political commentator Matthew Hooton said over breakfast that the “Trevor Mallard situation had to happen.”
“He’s just too attached to the schism; he is too attached to the Labor Party. The speaker has to be neutral, and the best ones are, even when they have been very partisan.”
He said while hoping Mallard “could have followed that and been slightly biased towards the opposition – I think the speaker should be slightly biased towards the opposition – but he just couldn’t do it”.
“He remained a Labor partisan.”