Newshub Nation's guide to getting kicked out of Parliament

Former Speaker Lockwood Smith.
Former Speaker Lockwood Smith. Photo credit: Parliament TV.

Newshub Nation spoke with current House Speaker Trevor Mallard about some of the most memorable times MP's have been ejected from the house.

The rule breakers

Sir Robert Muldoon being dragged from the House by Sergeant-in-Arms Carol Rankin is one parliamentary ejection Trevor Mallard will never forget.

Ms Rankin was called to remove the then-Prime Minister after he refused the Speaker’s order to leave.

"Apparently she had a black belt in some martial art but she was a relatively small woman, and the image of her dragging out Sir Robert caused some mirth around the place," recalls Mr Mallard, the current Speaker of the House.

As he was marched out, Sir Muldoon’s "long-term enemy" Bob Tizard put the boot in by offering to assist with Sir Robert’s removal.

But while Sir Robert was well-known for his cantankerous behaviour, Mr Mallard says he might have had a good reason for his tantrum. The Speaker at the time was Sir Gerard Wall, and Mr Mallard says he was inconsistent in his rulings.

"He was a chainsmoker, and after an hour or so when the nicotine in his blood levels were down he would give some pretty weird rulings on occasions, and Sir Robert may have been arguing against one of those."

In the naughty corner

Winston Peters is currently on the Government’s side of the room, but while in Opposition he was quick to point out perceived injustices in the Speaker’s rulings toward Opposition members.

In 2015, he went so far as to compile a list of MPs who had been kicked out of the house since 2008 - showing Opposition MPs were twice as likely to be ejected from the House as those in Government.

Critics were quick to point out, however, that Mr Peters and Mr Mallard accounted for half of the 32 ejections of Opposition MPs during that time. The pair are Parliament’s most prolific rule-breakers.

Mr Peters was kicked out six times in that period, despite being out of Parliament for three years of the eight years in question. His run-ins with speakers were so well known that people placed bets on their frequency. In 2015, it was reported that one website was paying 60 cents in the dollar if Mr Peters was kicked out of the House before a certain time.

One of Mr Peter’s most colourful ejections was in 2012, when he reacted National MP Gerry Brownlee calling one of his questions "vague".

"Mr Speaker that sort of insult really requires an apology especially from an illiterate woodwork teacher," Mr Peters said.

Lockwood Smith, the Speaker at the time, defended Mr Brownlee - who is a former carpenter and high school woodwork teacher.

"The member knows that he cannot use points of order to abuse other members. He'll now leave the House," he ordered.

Mr Peters left, immediately tweeting a call to arms to other parties to rally against the way the House was run.

Mallard is well aware of the irony of his current post, given his record of ejections (including being asked to leave the House when he wouldn’t withdraw his comment that John Key’s "nose was growing"). Having spent roughly equal time on both sides of the House he says the Opposition MPs are generally "naughtier" than those in Government – because the Government has more to lose.

"The Government members tend to be, on balance, better behaved and stay within the rules more, because the consequences tend to be greater, particularly for a minister who is meant to be asking questions or introducing bills."

Even worse than being kicked out is being "named". If a minister is named it means they can’t attend Parliament for 24 hours and their vote cannot be used.

Leaders are not immune

Even Prime Ministers are not immune from ejection. Sir John Key was thrown out of Parliament in 2016, after he continued a robust exchange with Green Party Leader James Shaw about the Panama Papers, despite the Speaker turning off his microphone and telling him to sit down.

He followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark who was ejected from Parliament in June 2005 by Speaker Margaret Wilson when she interjected as National’s Nick Smith was asking a question. The rule is that questions must be heard in silence. On the same day, National Leader Don Brash was also ejected from the house for interjecting.

That’s not the first time two party leaders have been ejected on the same day. In 1986 and 1987, Labour Prime Minister David Lange and National Leader Jim Bolger were both ordered to leave the house by Sir Gerry Wall, also for interjecting.

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