Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Double ejection from Parliament as tempers flare over cash for access

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

Ill-tempered exchanges in Parliament over the ongoing cash for access stoush involving Chinese businessman Donghua Liu saw Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins ejected from the House this afternoon.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse faced a flurry of questions over claims Mr Liu lobbied him to lower thresholds for the Investor Plus category for wealthy would-be immigrants.

However, Mr Woodhouse and Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee took exception when Mr Mallard asked Mr Woodhouse whether Mr Liu had offered him cash.

While Mr Woodhouse answered, saying no, Speaker David Carter ruled the question was effectively implying cash for access which MPs are not allowed to do during Question Time.

But Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said National MPs had taken offence to the question and Mr Carter ordered Mr Mallard to withdraw and apologise.

Mr Hipkins interjected that he shouldn't have to, resulting in Mr Carter ordering him out of the House.

Mr Mallard refused to withdraw and apologise and was already packing up when Mr Carter ordered him out for the second time this week. Mr Mallard was thrown out on Tuesday for refusing to withdraw an allegation that Justice Minister Judith Collins' family had received half a million dollars from milk exporter Oravida.

Mr Woodhouse later told reporters "it's quite offensive really to suggest that (money) would be offered much less accepted. There are very clear Speaker's rulings about that. He got what he deserved.''

Meanwhile New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters questioned Mr Woodhouse about Prime Minister John Key's involvement in discussions to lower the thresholds for Investor Plus immigrants, a matter Mr Woodhouse he discussed with Mr Liu at the hotel he owns in Auckland. Mr Peters tabled letters he claimed showed the Prime Minister was aware of the proposal.

"There's a Minister of Immigration going to see Mr Liu'', Mr Peters told reporters later.

"I'm asking specifically were you aware of the Prime Minister's view about this changed policy. He claimed absolute ignorance but I've tabled letters that prove that the National Party at all points in time and the Prime Minister in particular knew about the change and wanted to facilitate it. It's promised in that correspondence.''

Read more:
PM challenged over 'Cabinet Club' meetings
Bryce Edwards: Is there 'cash for access' in NZ politics?

- NZ Herald

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