National MP Nicky Wagner called Labour MP a 'bitch'

National MP and former Minister Nicky Wagner says she regrets calling a Labour MP a "bitch" during a debate in Parliament last month.

Ms Wagner interrupted Labour MP Dr Deborah Russell with the remark "you are a bitch", while she was speaking in the House on June 20.  

Dr Russell, the MP for New Lynn, stopped speaking immediately after the remark, telling assistant speaker Andrew Rurawhe: "I'm sorry. I believe I heard an unparliamentary word."

She asked whoever made the remark from the other side of the House to apologise. When the speaker asked who made the comment she said: "I believe it was Nicky Wagner. I may be mistaken, and if so I apologise, but I do believe I heard an unparliamentary word."

Ms Wagner then withdrew and apologised for the remark, and the debate continued.

"I did use the word. I shouldn't have and I apologised immediately," Ms Wagner told Newshub.

Dr Russell said she was shocked to hear the remark in the House. 

"I was a bit taken aback, initially I didn't quite believe it. I was speaking and I had a series of thoughts flash through my mind which was, 'She called me bitch, did she really? Oh my goodness she called me a bitch,'" she told Newshub. 

"I was tentative in turning to the Speaker because it's actually a pretty horrid word and I was surprised it was being used in the House. It's such a horrid word I didn't actually even want to repeat the word."

Ms Wagner's insult came as Dr Russell was taking a dig at National's finance spokesperson.

"I think Nicky must have been quite frustrated and to be fair to her I was hoeing into Amy Adams so I think she was probably sort of going 'oh my goodness this is horrible' and that was her reaction," Dr Russell said. 

She also felt that the time of year, and the election upset, could be influencing the amount of unparliamentary remarks being thrown around in recent months.

"Everyone's been a bit scratchy in the House especially in winter when we're all a bit tired and sick. I think also for former Ministers it can be a little bit frustrating now that they're back in opposition... I guess the opposition is still learning what it is to be in opposition as we're learning to be in Government." 

Dr Russell said she accepts Ms Wagner's apology in the House, and that's the end of the matter for her. 

The exchange has been recorded in the Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary debates, after it was initially redacted.

National MP Nicky Wagner called Labour MP a 'bitch'
Photo credit: NZ Parliament
National MP Nicky Wagner called Labour MP a 'bitch'
Photo credit: NZ Parliament

It's the latest of a number of "unparliamentary remarks" that have caused a stir this year, including Labour's Kelvin Davis calling National MP Jacqui Dean "hysterical", NZ First MP Ron Mark telling a female MP to "settle petal" and a male National MP allegedly calling the Prime Minister a "stupid little girl".

It's not the first time that Ms Wagner's words have landed her in hot water. A year ago while the Minister for Disabilities she faced calls for her resignation after tweeting that instead of disability meetings she would "rather be out on the harbour".

Tweeting about the incident, Dr Russell said: "I may well be a [redacted] but that doesn't mean that opposition members should call me that in the House."