Judith Collins says it's untenable for Trevor Mallard to remain Parliament's Speaker, after the veteran Labour MP once again accused a former staffer of sexual assault.
Mallard has already spent $330,000 of taxpayers' money on a defamation case that resulted after he wrongly accused the same man of rape in 2019, and made an apology. National MPs say he admitted he was wrong almost right away, but Mallard publicly defended the claim for months afterwards.
But on Tuesday night he once again accused the man of a serious crime - this time sexual assault - pushing back against claims he'd ruined the staffer's life.
"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... and I will support the police and their investigation and the results of that."
The leader of the Opposition told The AM Show on Wednesday it was an "abhorrence" for Mallard to "continue down a path of 'utu' against a former staff member".
"It was absolutely the worst, the most disgraceful display from Trevor Mallard that I have ever seen in Parliament in my almost 20 years. I've just never seen that behaviour, and he was doing this from his position as the minister as such in charge of parliamentary service."
She said it's time for Mallard to be replaced. National has made this call a lot recently, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly brushed it off, saying it's up to Parliament to remove him.
"It's really up to Jacinda Ardern," said Collins. "She's told people that it's really up to Parliament, well it's not. She's got 65 members of her caucus there, she controls Parliament, essentially. And she controls who is the Speaker... He is simply temperamentally unfit for the role. We need people who are calm, who are measured, who actually understand process and legal process - he clearly doesn't."
Asked if the convention of allowing the major party to appoint the Speaker should be scrapped, Collins said it wasn't the system that was the problem.
"I think it is actually simply the wrong person for the job. Parliament should not be Trevor Mallard's plaything, and it should not be his mechanism in which to suddenly become this new champion for every woman around, which is just truly not what I've seen from Trevor Mallard over the years.
"It's a very important institution - it's the highest court in the land, it's where democracy is seen to take place, and what we're seeing at the moment is a man who is entirely unfit for the job because of his temperament, his inability to be professional."
National MP Chris Bishop told Parliament on Tuesday night Mallard's latest outburst "will probably be the thing that sinks him as the Speaker".
"When we look back on this period and the tawdry, sordid period in this parliament led by this disgrace of a Speaker, I think we will look back with shame."
He challenged Mallard to make the claims outside of Parliament, where he wouldn't have the legal protection of parliamentary privilege.
"Sue me for defamation," Bishop said. "I will plead truth and prove that you are a bully."
Newshub has contacted Ardern's office for a response to Collins' call for Mallard's replacement.