Tim van de Molen: Christopher Luxon says contempt of Parliament doesn't meet sacking threshold

National MP Tim van de Molen has been censured by Parliament and stripped of all his portfolios after the powerful Privileges Committee ruled he had acted in a threatening manner toward Labour MP Shanan Halbert. 

The committee found him in contempt of Parliament but Christopher Luxon says that's not a sackable offence.

It was a forced sorry.

"I would like to extend an apology to all Members of this House," van de Molen said.  

He's been found in contempt of Parliament and forced to apologise for his inappropriate behaviour in a parliamentary select committee. 

"I've fallen short of my own expectations and the expectations of the House. No one should feel threatened in their workplace," he said.

But that's exactly how people felt.

The Privileges Committee was tasked with investigating a dust up at a Select Committee between van de Molen and Halbert.

"I certainly did feel threatened at the time. I was seated and Tim was standing," said Halbert.

The committee found van de Molen had stood less than a metre from Halbert in a threatening manner and ordered Halbert to "stand up".

"Certainly there is no place for that sort of behaviour, for threatening behaviour or intimidation in Parliament," Halbert said.  

The Privileges Committee ruled van de Molen's behaviour was "aggressive in the sense of being hostile, unprofessional and with an element that was objectively threatening, but not in the sense of physical violence."

The report said the behaviour "cannot be condoned as normal or acceptable".

Asked if he was harbouring a bully in his caucus, Luxon said: "Absolutely not and I'd point you to the report and its findings in which it describes the behaviour as aggressive, threatening aggressive, unprofessional." 

Labour's Rachel Boyack witnessed the altercation and was the MP who made the complaint. 

"Tim was very aggressive," she said. 

Asked if she thought she was going to witness an assault, she said: "I was concerned that was where things could go." 

She said parliamentary staff "were so concerned that they nearly called the security button". 

Boyack said Labour tried to sort it out directly.

"Christopher Luxon, in particular, didn't take the matter seriously," she said. 

Luxon said National did take it "incredibly seriously". 

Labour's Carmel Sepuloni said Luxon has been "very quick to criticise other politicians' behaviour, he needs to look at his own". 

Being found in contempt of Parliament is the most serious judgement an MP can receive.

Van de Molen said he is fit to be an MP.

"I have been working hard for my constituency."

Luxon said it was his view that it didn't meet the threshold for sacking van de Molen.

"What it meets the threshold for is an appropriate and proportionate response and some pretty severe consequences for him."

Asked how contempt of Parliament wasn't a sackable offence, Luxon replied: "I think it's not a sackable offence. I think the reality is we have an proportionate and appropriate response here. He is experiencing severe consequences."

The consequence is not a sacking, but a standing down from his portfolios. 

"I also made it very clear that he wouldn't be selected a Cabinet minister post the election if we are lucky to win," said Luxon.

Van de Molen said his last year has been difficult. 

"I have had a difficult time losing my sister and breaking my neck, back and arms. It is difficult for anyone to go through but that is no excuse."