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The Speaker Who Would Be King (twice updated)

Peter Zohrab 2019

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Letter to Leader of the Opposition

Reply from Leader of the Opposition


(Open Letter to the Leader of the Opposition)


Dear Mr. Bridges,

I am writing to you about Mr. Trevor Mallard's personality cult. Although one of my complaints about him is that he has not replied to a letter which I sent him, I do not expect you to reply to this open letter. Apart from anything else, the Speaker might consider it unparliamentary of you to reply to a letter that criticised him.


The "barnyard noise" incident

I will start by referring to the so-called "barnyard noise" incident, in which the Speaker accused you of making a barnyard noise. I happened to be watching Parliament live on television when that happened. I did hear that noise, although I could not see who made it. It was a strange sound and I could see how someone could describe it as a "barnyard noise," although that must be a subjective judgment and it seemed to be a spontaneous sound, rather than a deliberate provocation by you. I don't know whether permitted types of noise are covered in Standing Orders or Speakers' Rulings, although I doubt it.

I cannot, therefore, comment on whether Mr. Mallard's reaction was justified, in the Parliamentary context. What I can do, however, is compare that incident to what happened when I watched live, on television, as the Minister of Finance started to present this year's Budget. What I heard was a very loud chorus of -- mainly or totally female -- cheers from what seemed to be all the female Labour Party Members of Parliament. That noise was much louder than your so-called "barnyard noise" -- yet the Speaker made no comment about it whatsoever. That seems to me possibly to be a sexist and/or political double standard on the part of the Speaker, although I am not knowledgeable about Standing Orders or Speakers' Rulings.

Next, in the following exchange, the Speaker seemed to be exhibiting bias against you:


"Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Excuse me, sir, why did you give that look when I asked for a legitimate point of order, when you've just had three from the other side?

SPEAKER: Because I was just living in the vain hope that we might be getting on with question time."


He seemed to be treating your point of order as a mere interruption, rather than as your right to raise. A bit later, he says, "The member, earlier, made a barnyard noise of the sort that would not be accepted in a junior classroom, and I remonstrated with him for it," and gives that as the reason for treating you as a "naughty boy," as you put it. I am not an expert on Parliament's procedure, but it seems to me that, once the Speaker had dealt with your so-called "barnyard noise," he should have put it behind him and not let it affect how he treated you subsequently. If that is what you meant by the Speaker being unprofessional, I agree with you.


Babies on Laps

I know of two recent occasions when there has been a baby on the floor of the debating Chamber (as opposed to the Gallery, where the visitors are). I am not sure if the Speaker had the Prime Minister's baby on his lap while sitting on the Speaker's Chair (Throne?), but he did have Tamati Coffey's baby on his lap while sitting on the Speaker's Chair and presiding over a debate.

I find that highly offensive and highly reprehensible. This should be placed in the context of the recent discussion of the levels of MPs' pay-rates. You people all do a very important job, for which you get paid what appears to be a large amount of money and I feel that the Electorate deserves to be sure that all of you have your minds on the job. If the Speaker was feeding a baby, then he could not have had his mind fully on the job of presiding over the debate. At any time there could have been some crisis with the baby which took his attention fully off the debate at some crucial time. Alternatively, he would have had to ignore the baby and concentrate on the debate -- with detrimental effects on the baby. I think that his salary and the interests of the nation require him to have his mind fully on his job at all times. And his attempt to "multitask" shows how child abuse can happen.

Mr. Mallard may have an ulterior motive. He may be paving the way for female MPs to breastfeed and change nappies on the floor of the Debating Chamber. New Zealand apparently has a poor productivity rate and this kind of carry-on may be part of the explanation. Given his apparent inability to criticise women who were making a racket in the Debating Chamber, he may be totally subservient to women in that way as well!


Personality Cult

I think it is inappropriate that the Speaker is carrying out stunts such as feeding babies, when he should be doing his paid job of presiding over debates. He has apparently become an internet star, when that that is the role of random individuals -- not of one of the highest officials in the country! He is responsible to and for Parliament and the people of New Zealand. The internet as a whole is not where he should be focusing his ego.

He has introduced the innovation of directly addressing the nation on Parliament Television. Although he has succeeded (I suppose) in making Parliament more understandable to people, I am unhappy with the possible constitutional implications of the Speaker having a direct relationship with the Electorate, rather than solely with Parliament, which I think is his proper sphere for personal relationships. Will he apply to become King of New Zealand?


Bias against Me

On 17 July 2019 I wrote to the Speaker about apparent political corruption in the Ombudsman's office, listing seven complaints about how it had handled one of my complaints, but I have had no reply. The Ombudsman is an Officer of Parliament, so I had no one else to complain to. On 7th August I phoned the Speaker's office and complained that I had had no reply or acknowledgement. The woman in his office said just, "Right" (after I had said who I was) and "Acknowledgement", leaving me with the impression that I would be sent an acknowledgement.

The way she said "Right" indicated that she placed me on the Right of the political spectrum and would treat me accordingly. That is totally unacceptable in a Democracy. Once, when Margaret Wilson was Attorney-General, I phoned her office, identified myself and got hissed at by a female! And, during the period of the current Government, I once rang Andrew Little's office and spoke to some male whose voice clearly showed that he was angry at me. So I think my interpretation of the word "Right," in that context, was correct.



If you do reply to me, I would like to have some guidance as to what I am supposed to do about being treated unfairly by the Ombudsman's office. I have been dealing with that office for some years and have never had this degree of mistreatment from them. The current Ombudsman (former Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier) , who is a Leftist, has instituted the slogan, "Fairness For All," as the motto for his office, so it is all the more galling to be treated unfairly. Just as in the case of Speaker Trevor Mallard, we have here a Leftist who has instituted mushy public relations AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR real fairness and professionalism.

The only lawyer I have ever had on a Men's Rights issue (being called "sexist" by a Feminist newspaper editor without justification) was Stephen Kos, now a Justice on the Court of Appeal. He stated to me that the Family Court was corrupt. He was not referring to any specific individual and it was before Peter Boshier became Principal Family Court Judge, but it is significant that such a senior legal figure as Stephen Kos had that opinion about the Family Court, from which Peter Boshier has ascended to become Ombudsman!



Eventually, I received a reply from the Chief Ombudsman.


Later, I received the following reply from the office of the Leader of the Opposition:


Letter from the Leader of the Opposition of 23 September 2019


See also:




Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

1 October 2019