ACT MP Simon Court referred to Parliament's Privileges Committee, Greens' Marama Davidson thrown out of House

An ACT MP has been referred to the Privileges Committee, while Greens co-leader Marama Davidson has been thrown out of the House in a chaotic start to the week in Parliament.

At the start of the first Question Time of the week, Speaker Adrian Rurawhe told the House that Green MP Eugenie Sage had complained about ACT's Simon Court releasing information in a press release that allegedly breached Select Committee confidentiality rules.

Court disclosed information about an Environment Select Committee vote during consideration of the Natural and Built Environment Bill, the House was told.

"The committee has attempted to resolve this matter, but has been unable to do so," said Rurawhe.

"Mr Court admitted making the press release informing the media of the outcome of a vote taken during the committee's consideration."

The Speaker said Court took the view the proceedings could be disclosed as "they did not relate to any business or decisions still before the committee".

But Rurawhe said "discussion and voting on substantive matters before the committee remain strictly confidential until a committee reports until the House".

He didn't believe the proceedings Court spoke of could be divulged before a committee reports to the House.

Rurawhe believed it was a matter that the Privileges Committee should consider.

An ACT Party spokesperson said Court's only motivation "was to be transparent with voters about decisions made on their behalf in Parliament". 

As the matter had been voted on, Court believed it was closed and could therefore be discussed publicly, the spokesperson said.

"Mr Court respects the rules of Parliament and will fully cooperate with the Privileges Committee as it decides on the question referred to it."

Court is the second MP to be referred to the committee this year after minister Jan Tinetti, who was referred over a delay in correcting an inaccurate statement in Parliament

About twenty minutes after the referral, Speaker Rurawhe ordered Davidson to leave the House.

It came amid questions from ACT MPs about how ethnicity was considered through Te Whatu Ora Te Toka Tumai Auckland's Equity Adjustor Waitlist tool.

Ethnicity is one of five factors weighed up when prioritising non-urgent surgeries, along with clinical priority, time spent on waitlists, geographic location and deprivation level.

As ACT's James McDowall asked his question, Davidson stood up and interjected with a point of order. She raised previous rulings that MPs should take "care as they express themselves, to think of the wider consequences as they do".

"The nature of these questions are absolutely intended to raise racist opinions amongst the New Zealand public," she said.

As Davidson continued, the Speaker yelled out "order" and said she had made a "very serious accusation". 

"The first part of it I disagree in this instance. To carry on, to make an accusation as you did, I am contemplating sending you out," Rurawhe said.

"It is a discussion that perhaps this House should have one day, but you cannot make that accusation in this House."

He asked her to stand, withdraw and apologise.

Davidson rose and said: "I stand, withdraw and apologise."

But Rurawhe said that was not the proper way of doing it. 

"I will give you one more chance. You do it properly, you can stay," he said.

But Davidson repeated herself and was ordered out.

"You will leave the chamber," Rurawhe said.

Speaking afterwards, Davidson said she would "always stand up against people whipping up fear and division". 

"I am upset about the line of questioning that the ACT Party is using. They actually don't care about equity. They are weaponising fear and division of people for votes. That to me seems quite horrific."

ACT leader David Seymour denied his party was being racist.

"We were raising questions that are important to us as MPs and to many New Zealanders. This policy is racist…I think people who don't like seeing those questions asked need to start questioning whether they support a policy that puts some people ahead of others based on race, because that's what's racist."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Monday said he had asked Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall to review the equity tool to ensure it's not discriminatory.

Te Whatu Ora said the equity adjustor was developed to make the health system fairer for everyone and was open to adding other ethnicities or risk factors to add to the tool as they're identified.