Leader of the House Chris Hipkins says the debate last night involving Trevor Mallard's defamation settlement for calling a man a rapist did not reflect well on Parliament, or on any of those involved in it.
The drama in the House last night has prompted National Party leader Judith Collins to write to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning calling for Mallard to be removed.
"Mr Mallard's behaviour in Parliament during the Annual Review Debate of Parliamentary Service was the worst behaviour of any MP, let alone the Speaker, that I have ever seen in my almost 20 years of Parliament," Collins said in the letter.
"We have seen nothing from Trevor Mallard's behaviour that gives us any confidence in him and in fact his behaviour last evening simply confirms he is temperamentally unfit for the job."
Hipkins said this morning he sat through the debate, which involved numerous testy exchanges between Mallard and National MPs Chris Bishop and Michael Woodhouse.
"I don't think it reflected well on Parliament as a whole, I don't think it reflected well on pretty much everyone that was taking part in that debate. I don't think the debating chamber of Parliament is the best place to deal with these types of issues," Hipkins said.
"I don't think it was a victim-centric approach, I don't think it was fair on the person the allegations were against either."
Hipkins said the whole of Parliament needed to step back from the issue. "Continuing down this road isn't the appropriate course of action for anybody at Parliament."
He said he would be talking to Mallard about it. Asked if he still had confidence in the Speaker, Hipkins said "the Labour Party continues to support the Speaker".
He said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would make further statements today.
Bishop said Mallard still has a lot of questions to answer about the controversy.
Mallard last night used the legal immunity of parliamentary privilege to say that a worker - who he had apologised to for falsely accusing of rape - did commit sexual assault.
Mallard had apologised to the man for earlier describing his actions as "rape" under a settlement for a defamation suit that cost taxpayers $330,000.
Under questioning from National MPs in Parliament last night, a visibly angry Mallard sought to paint himself as on the side of victims.
He said although he acknowledged the man had not committed rape, he had committed sexual assault and National dragging out the saga was causing stress for the victims.
It was the first time Mallard had been able to address the issue in full in Parliament - he was being questioned as part of the annual review of Parliamentary Service as the minister in charge.
Mallard later justified using parliamentary privilege to make his statements by saying he was prevented by a court suppression order and mediation agreement from making comments outside the parliamentary process.
This morning, Bishop said Mallard's performance showed he was "unfit to be Speaker" and he had left a number of critical questions about the case unanswered.
"The big question Trevor Mallard repeatedly dodged is: why did he not just apologise once he knew he had wrongly accused the parliamentary staffer of rape, which in his own words was within 24 hours, rather than letting this drag for 18 months at taxpayers' expense?
"Taxpayers are also still in the dark as to how much more Mr Mallard's subsequent behaviour, including his refusal to apologise and the 'threats' that followed, has cost them in damages."
Bishop reiterated his call for the Speaker to be sacked, claiming he had acted in a "bullying" fashion.
"The Prime Minister might like to reflect on the fact that if Trevor Mallard was a National MP, she would be the first in line to call for his resignation."
On Newstalk ZB this morning, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he had not seen Mallard's appearance in Parliament and so did not want to comment on it.