Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Jason Walls: Mallard’s revenge – Is banning Winston from Parliament a step too far?

Speaker of the House bans former Deputy Prime Minister from Parliament is one hell of a headline.

But that looks to be the current state of play in the Capital.

After attending the anti-mandate protests for the better part of an afternoon two months ago, Winston Peters has been issued a trespass notice from Parliament.

That means he can’t come onto the grounds, or inside the hallowed halls, for at least two years.

If he does, he faces a fine or even jail time.

It’s a significant move from Parliament’s security team – and by extension the man in charge, Trevor Mallard.

Mallard won’t respond to Newstalk ZB’s request for comment – but told Newsroom Parliamentary Security made the call independently.

Be that as it may, Mallard’s in charge of the Parliamentary precinct and Peters puts the blame squarely in the Speaker’s lap.

“This dictatorial behaviour by Mallard, supported by Labour, should be reserved for third world banana republics,” Peters said.

He’s now seeking legal advice.

Former National MP Matt King – who’s been disowned by Chris Luxon – has also been issued a trespassing notice.

And there’s presumably a laundry list of people who took part in the protests who’ve also made the list.

Whether any media are on that list remains to be seen.

The issue with King is he’s seeking election in 2023.

His independent party never stood a real chance of being elected; the 5 percent threshold on getting into Parliament is simply too high for new parties to stand a chance.

But Winston Peters is another story.

As the old political adage goes: Never count Winston out.

He defied the odds in 2011 and brought his New Zealand First party back into the halls of power after languishing in the political cold for three years.

New Zealand First winning 5 percent at the 2023 election was never a prospect that was out of the question.

A more pressing issue is the Tauranga by-election.

Peters hasn’t revealed if he will run in the seat vacated by Simon Bridges – before today it was more likely than not he would have a crack.

Would he have won? Probably not.

Tauranga is National country – even the Prime Minister’s not bothering to pretend Labour has a shot.

Even with Winston’s extensive history in the electorate, winning the by-election was also a tough ask.

But now that’s beside the point.

It appears Mallard has essentially taken the option of voting for Peters away from the people of Tauranga.

You can’t be much of an MP if you can’t come to Parliament.

Winston has every right to be calling his lawyers and will be gunning for Mallard.

Game on.

Jason Walls is a New Zealand political reporter who previously worked for NZ Herald. This article was first published HERE

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