National MP Simon O'Connor admits Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy 'has much bigger issues to focus on' after proposing address to NZ Parliament

National's Simon O'Connor had admitted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has "bigger issues to focus on right now" than speaking to the New Zealand Parliament.

It comes after National leader Christopher Luxon wouldn't express support on Wednesday for a proposal from O'Connor for Zelenskyy to speak to Kiwi MPs. 

O'Connor lodged a motion on Parliament's Order Paper this week calling for MPs to invite Zelenskyy to speak to address politicians as he has done with other countries' parliaments. He's virtually beamed into the likes of the United States and Australia to underscore the severity of Russia's invasion and make pleas for assistance.

But Luxon didn't voice support for it when asked by reporters on Wednesday.

"I could imagine that President Zelenskyy is very busy doing some other things at the moment," Luxon said. "[O'Connor] spoke to [foreign spokesperson] Gerry Brownlee about it. I haven't caught up with him. I have been a bit busy this morning."

An address from the Ukrainian President was "very unlikely to happen", Luxon told reporters. 

"[O'Connor] is an enthusiastic, constituent MP representing a constituent in a process that is designed for that. But at the end of the day, President Zelenskyy has other things to worry about."

After seeking comment from O'Connor, Newshub received a statement from the MP admitting Zelenskyy had other things to focus on.

"Some constituents asked me to lodge a motion to invite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak to Parliament," O'Connor said. "Ultimately this is a decision for the Government."

"Though it would be great to hear from President Zelensky, he has much bigger issues to focus on right now."

The Leader of the House, Labour's Chris Hipkins, didn't hold back in criticising the motion. 

"I think it is somewhat undiplomatic and almost embarrassing for the New Zealand Parliament to move a motion like that without speaking to the Ukrainian President to see whether or not he wants to address the New Zealand Parliament," he said.

If New Zealand was going to pass such a motion, it would only do so after getting assurances an address was something Zelenskyy wanted, Hipkins said. He was unaware if an approach had been made. 

"Our Government, including our Prime Minister, has been in regular contact with both the President and the Prime Minister of Ukraine. They are well aware of the New Zealand support and certainly, if the President wanted to address the New Zealand Parliament, there would be no impediment, other than cross-party agreement, which I am sure we would be able to secure."

Hipkins said Zelenskyy was a "busy guy" with "a lot happening" at the moment. 

"I wouldn't want to put him in a position where we formally issued an invitation which he then felt he either had to do despite not having the time to do it or had to turn down. 

"This is one where we do have to rely on some diplomacy here rather than the politicking that is clearly evident in the fact that that motion has been put on Parliament's order paper."

In 2011, then-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard became the first head of a foreign government to address the New Zealand Parliament. 

It's the second time in two days where Luxon hasn't been in step with one of his own MPs. On Tuesday, the National leader wasn't aware National MP Dr Shane Reti had spoken to Australian media about an Australian election policy. Dr Reti later expressed regret about that and Luxon said the MP understood it had been "unwise". 

O'Connor is an associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson for National. He is well-known for speaking out against human rights abuses in China as part of his role with the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China alongside Labour's Louisa Wall.