21 May 2019

Parliament a ‘perfect storm’ for bullying, bad behaviour – report

From Checkpoint, 5:12 pm on 21 May 2019

The author of the report into bullying at Parliament says there's no excuse for such behaviour in modern day New Zealand.

Independent reviewer Debbie Francis found a culture at Parliament that allowed and 'normalised' bad behaviour and harassment and referred to a small group of MPs  well known as serial offenders.

Ms Francis found systemic problems, including bullying, harassment and in some cases sexual assault.

Her report included an online survey of a thousand people, with more than 100 interviewed.

It concluded that while there were excellent MPs and ministers, there was a small group of repeat offenders, who were not held to account.

Ms Francis said there was no justification for it.

"The old excuses, that it's a robust environment, Parliament's not for the faint-hearted, are just that, old-fashioned and out of place in the 21st Century," Ms Francis said.

She said the behaviour covered staff, managers, MPs, media and the public and she made 80 recommendations to change Parliament's culture.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the report was "incredibly distressing".

"It should be a place where people feel safe coming to work and it should be an exemplar and at the moment it's not."

Opposite leader Simon bridges echoed her comments, calling the situation "deeply concerning".

"There are some things there that are really appalling and this place, all the parties in it, can and must do better.