Explosive scenes in Parliament as Speaker Trevor Mallard levels fresh allegations of sexual assault against staffer

There were extraordinary scenes in Parliament on Tuesday night when its boss - Speaker Trevor Mallard - and the National Party went to war over rape allegations the Speaker made about a parliamentary staffer.

Mallard repeated sexual assault allegations under parliamentary privilege. He pulled no punches - going after the staffer and National MP Chris Bishop, who Mallard believes defended the staffer online.

He said he was standing by the victims but National said Mallard abused parliamentary privilege, is a bully, and completely unfit to be Speaker.

"When we look back on this period tawdry - disgrace - we will look back with shame," Bishop told MPs. 

National also spoke on behalf of the staffer, saying on Tuesday the Speaker ruined his career.

"His career has been ruined, his life has been ruined," National MP Michael Woodhouse said. "If there had been a fair go and the right outcome had been reached, it wouldn't have got the scalp Mr Speaker was looking for."

Mallard made the rape allegation in 2019. More than $300,000 of taxpayer money was spent settling a defamation case the staffer took against the Speaker.

The Speaker's now arguing National's continuing scrutiny of the case is traumatising the alleged victims.

"His ongoing behaviour has caused distress to a number of women and he's been asked to stop and he hasn't," Mallard said.

"That man's life was destroyed when he sexually assaulted a woman. That's what did it - I will support the woman and what she said, I will support the investigation that found that he seriously assaulted her."

National baited the Speaker into repeating the claims about the staffer outside the House - where he is not covered by the special legal protection afforded to MPs in the debating chamber.

"Sue me for defamation," Bishop said. "I will plead truth and prove that you are a bully."

National leader Judith Collins said Mallard needs to go.

"They've [National MPs] stood up to a bully who is the Speaker of Parliament."

Chris Bishop, left, and Trevor Mallard.
Chris Bishop, left, and Trevor Mallard. Photo credit: Getty

Putting this all into context, this is a place where to even accuse the Speaker of bias is against the rules - so to call him a "petulant bully" is nuclear.

Parliament is now on a knife-edge.