ACT leader David Seymour slams outgoing Speaker Trevor Mallard, says he shouldn't have got diplomat role

ACT leader David Seymour has slammed the Government's appointment of Trevor Mallard as New Zealand's Ambassador to Ireland.

Mallard resigned from his role as Speaker of the House on Tuesday and was appointed to the Ambassador role before he left Parliament for the last time on Wednesday.

But Seymour said the appointment sends a bad message to Kiwis by rewarding Mallard after multiple controversies.

"It was time for him to move on a year ago and it's all very well to hold a baby in the speaker's chair and say what a great guy you are, but what message does it send to the children of New Zealand when Jacinda Ardern rewards bad behaviour?

"He should have been sacked a year ago for the false rape allegation fiasco that cost the taxpayer over $300,000 and, instead, Jacinda Ardern kept Trevor Mallard on and now is giving him a plum post in a relatively small country on the other side of the world that, nonetheless, has an embassy in a diplomatic post," Seymour told AM Early host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

Mallard has been under mounting pressure, particularly from National, while in the Speaker role. Decisions he made during and after the parliamentary protest earlier this year - including turning on sprinklers and playing loud music - were criticised. He also faced scrutiny for comments he made about a parliamentary staffer.

A TVNZ poll in June found just 17 percent of people approved of Mallard's handling of his job as Speaker, almost half disapproved and the rest didn't know. 

Seymour told AM Early Ardern's decision to give Mallard the ambassador role is a slap in the face for Kiwis trying to do the right thing. 

"It's a bad look for New Zealand and it's about values… and this guy has behaved so badly that his approval ratings were worse than President Trump, despite doing a supposedly politically neutral role, and he gets rewarded for the bad behaviour," he told AM Early. 

"That's what really grates because a lot of people in New Zealand, [who] are fearful of losing their job, trying to do the right thing and to watch somebody get ahead by doing all the wrong things, I think grates on a lot of New Zealanders."

Mallard became the Speaker in 2017 and has been an MP for 35 years. He has held 13 ministerial roles, including Education, and will take up the Ambassador to Ireland role in January 2023.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern first announced Mallard's intention to retire while making a Cabinet reshuffle back in June.