Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March criticises ACT's David Seymour for 'political scoring' after calling for debate into resignation of Kiri Allan

Green Party MP Ricardo Menéndez March has hit out at ACT leader David Seymour after he called for an urgent debate into the resignation of former Justice Minister Kiri Allan.

Allan resigned from her ministerial portfolios after she was involved in a car crash in Wellington on Sunday evening.

She was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle and refusing to accompany a police officer and will appear in court at a later date. Allan was also issued an infringement notice for excess breath alcohol between 250 and 400mcg.

The incident occurred shortly after Allan publicly announced she was struggling with her mental health.

Greens MP Ricardo Menéndez March criticises ACT leader David Seymour for "political scoring".
Greens MP Ricardo Menéndez March criticises ACT leader David Seymour for "political scoring". Photo credit: AM

Menéndez March told AM Early he understands politicians have the right to debate a minister's departure, particularly when they've had an issue with the law. 

But he criticised the way Seymour went about it telling AM Early host Michael O'Keeffe he swept mental health under the carpet. 

"Too many people in Aotearoa are struggling with their mental health and I don't think enough care was given to the topic to ensure that we role model supporting colleagues and workers who may be experiencing mental health challenges in the workplace," he said. 

Newshub political reporter Lloyd Burr wrote on Tuesday Seymour's actions were a "parliamentary stunt that backfired and made him look like a heartless, unempathetic, and even cruel political operative".  

Menéndez March told AM Early incidents like these have always been used for political scoring.

"I think this is part of why the culture at Parliament needs to change so we can have a mature conversation about the impacts of our workplaces on our mental health," he said. 

"There's a separate topic about the car crash and whether those actions were defensible but I do not believe we have been able to have in Parliament a mature enough conversation about mental health to role model that to the rest of the population." 

He's called on Parliament to be more careful around discussions on MPs struggling with their mental health in the workplace as it's something countless people in New Zealand are also grappling with. 

"We also need to look at what kind of support can we provide to members of Parliament, the public servants who may be struggling with their mental health because that does not disqualify them from the job but we have to acknowledge that jobs that have such a chaotic schedule, that have you in the public eye can have an impact on your mental health as well," he said. 

All of this comes as Labour grapples with another ministerial departure, their fifth of the year. Greens and Labour look likely to team up in a coalition against the right-bloc of National and ACT at this year's election.

But despite the issues Labour are having, Menedez March said the Greens are focused on themselves and helping their constituents. 

"I don't get too caught up in whether this will have an impact on our polling because for us the priority hasn't been so much focusing on those ministerial challenges Labour has been going through, for us it's been about wanting to talk to our communities about potential challenges they're experiencing, issues around income adequacy, access to housing, a tax-free threshold, so that's what we're focusing on," he told AM Early.

"It'll be up to Labour how they'll want to manage the challenges they're facing with their own ministers." 

Watch the full interview with Ricardo Menéndez March in the video above.