Former MP Peter Dunne has condemned Speaker Trevor Mallard for acting as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's "protector" in Parliament, calling it "patronising" and "inappropriate".
This week has seen several controversial rulings by Mallard that have been criticised by the National Party and some commentators as signalling a bias from someone in a neutral role.
- Judith Collins tells the men in Parliament to 'calm down'
- Nick Smith suspended from Parliament
- 'Naughty boy' Simon Bridges booted from Parliament for 'barnyard noise' during question time
On Tuesday party leader Simon Bridges was ejected from the debating chamber for making what Mallard called a "a barnyard noise of the sort that would not be accepted in a junior classroom" during Question Time.
That was followed on Wednesday by Nick Smith being named and suspended from the House after a clash with Mallard in which the National MP yelled out "soft on drugs, like the Government".
Dunne, a former Minister in both Labour and National Governments and who retired before the 2017 election, has lambasted Mallard's recent rulings as over-reactions.
"Dr Smith's offence was akin to the serial parking offender who wrote an abusive letter to the local Council, being sent to jail for 10 years, completely over the top and out of all proportion to reality," he wrote on Friday.
Standing orders 90 gives the Speaker the ability to name "any member whose conduct is grossly disorderly". The entire House must then "judge" the conduct of the member who may then be suspended.
National and independent MP Jami-Lee Ross voted against the naming, while Labour, the Green Party and New Zealand First favoured it. No vote was cast for ACT.
Dunne said instead of acting as a neutral and independent referee in Parliament, Mallard was "hell-bent" on changing what the role of the Speaker was, including by running guard for Ardern.
"Faced with a new government and a totally inexperienced Prime Minister he seems to have taken on the role of her protector in the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate, Question Time in particular.
"While his paternalistic approach towards the Prime Minister may be understandable in the circumstances, it is, at the same time, not only utterly patronising, but, worse, it is completely inappropriate and totally compromising of the presumed impartiality of the Speaker."
Mallard had no comment when approached by Newshub.
Dunne said Question Time is an important opportunity for the Opposition to criticise the Government and there is pressure on the Speaker to be seen as being fair on them.
"That is where Mr Mallard is failing," wrote Dunne.
"Time and time again, he seems too quick to intervene to cut the Opposition short, to the benefit and delight of the Government. That is not as it should be."
Dunne called on Mallard to repair damage he has created so far to remove the view "he is probably Parliament's most biased Speaker in the last thirty years".
"If he carries on this way, he will achieve the dubious honour of being remembered as the Speaker who brought Parliament into disrepute."
Dr Smith has a history of trouble-making in Parliament. He was the last person to be 'named' and booted out of the House in 2006. Being named is a more serious punishment than just being kicked out, which happens to MPs regularly.