The Prime Minister won't say if it's appropriate for a former National MP to be trespassed from Parliament's grounds, while Christopher Luxon expects other high-profile protest attendees to be treated the same way.
Matt King, who held the Northland electorate for National between 2017 and 2020, revealed on Monday that he had been banned from entering the parliamentary precinct for two years. A letter sent to King, and seen by Newshub, confirms he could be imprisoned for up to three months if he enters the grounds.
The former MP spoke at the protest at Parliament that was held in February and early March. Attendees set up camp on the grounds and blocked surrounding streets while rallying against vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions. They stayed for weeks despite police, the Speaker and MPs telling them to leave.
He told Newshub on Monday that the notice was "pretty pathetic and undemocratic".
Asked if it was appropriate for a former MP to be trespassed, Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday said it was "entirely a matter for the Speaker".
"I see it as entirely as a matter for the Speaker how he chooses to deal with the aftermath of the protest and the attendance of protesters," the Prime Minister said.
"Ultimately, the management of the grounds on behalf of all Members of Parliament and all political parties is a matter for the Speaker."
Luxon, the National leader, told reporters on Tuesday that King is no longer a member of National - King resigned earlier this year and launched his own party - and the decision to send him a trespass notice was one for the Speaker.
"There was a number of high-profile politicians and personalities there that were identifiable and I am sure the Speaker is working his way through and treating everyone equally," he said.
Luxon was also asked if he thought it was appropriate for a former MP to be trespassed.
"Those are issues fundamentally for the Speaker and the trespass laws that are sitting in this place around Parliament," Luxon replied. "My question is, as long as he is treating everyone equally, that is a challenge you've got to ask him."
"I am sure [the Speaker] will apply equality and fairness to everybody," Luxon replied when asked if he was saying he would also like to see Winston Peters trespassed. Peters, the former deputy Prime Minister, toured the protest site one day in February.
"His criteria was that there was high-profile individuals that were recognisable that therefore contravened trespass laws. I am sure he will be looking at the many, many others who were there that were recognisable and identifiable."
1News reports that trespass notices have been distributed to anyone who could be identified. Newshub has contacted the Speaker for comment, as well as Peters.
Other high-profile personalities such as former New Conservatives leader Leighton Baker and musician Jason Kerrison also attended.