Goodbye Gaurav - a timeline from whoa to go

10:24 am on 11 December 2022
Former Labour Party whip Kieran McAnulty (now Minister for Racing and Emergency Management), current Labour Party whip Duncan Webb, independent MP Gaurav Sharma, and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

Former Labour Party whip Kieran McAnulty, current Labour Party whip Duncan Webb, former MP Gaurav Sharma, and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver, Samuel Rillstone; Getty Images/ Hagen Hopkins

Rebel MP Gaurav Sharma threw the Labour Party into a tailspin this year with explosive allegations of bullying. Sharma, ultimately, failed to deliver a smoking gun and was instead shown the door.

He now leaves Parliament altogether, after coming fourth in yesterday's Hamilton West by-election sparked by his resignation.

15 June 2020

Labour publishes its list for the 2020 election. Sharma, a Hamilton doctor, is ranked at number 65.

17 October 2020

Gaurav Sharma rides into Parliament on Labour's red wave, seizing the Hamilton West seat from National's Tim Macindoe with a margin of 6267. Sharma took 53 percent of the vote, to Macindoe's 37 percent.

Sharma becomes the first Kiwi-Indian to win an electorate in New Zealand.

9 February 2021

Sharma delivers his maiden speech to Parliament and speaks of his experience of racial harassment and bullying in New Zealand.

"When I was at university, a prominent paediatric surgeon bullied me for months and said: 'You people come to our country, I will kill you and ruin your career'."

11 August 2022

In a column for the New Zealand Herald, the Labour backbencher claims MP-on-MP bullying is rampant within Parliament and facilitated by those supposed to prevent it.

Among his accusations were that the Parliamentary Service stonewalled serious concerns about colleagues' behaviour and instead redirected them to the party's whip, whom - he claimed - would gaslight and victimise the complainant with the intention of threatening them about their long-term career prospects.

12 August 2022

Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero denies the allegations.

"The Parliamentary Service works alongside whips from all parties. This has included working closely with the Labour Whip's office over the past year to address employment matters with Dr Sharma."

Labour chief whip Duncan Webb says his office became aware of issues between Sharma and his staff a year ago and had been trying to address them as recently as that week.

Sharma responds with a 2600-word statement on Facebook, providing a timeline of his interactions with Parliamentary Services and the Labour Party whips.

He claims to have been gaslit, shouted at and degraded in front of caucus members and directly accuses Webb of bullying. Webb tells RNZ the allegations are "unfounded and not accepted".

15 August 2022

Jacinda Ardern tells Morning Report bullying is not a widespread issue in the Labour Party. She says his allegations do not warrant an independent investigation.

Sharma shares screenshots on social media of messages he claims are from fellow MPs also alleging bullying by former whip Kieran McAnulty. He says he formally emailed the prime minister's office in December with detailed complaints against McAnulty, but nothing was done.

In a post-Cabinet media briefing, Ardern announces Labour will hold a caucus meeting to address Sharma's status because his public actions are out of step with the rules of dealing with disputes within the party.

Labour MPs meet this evening - without Sharma present - to discuss the matter.

16 August 2022

The Labour caucus meets for a second time. Sharma is invited but does not attend.

Following the meeting, Ardern reveals the caucus has unanimously decided to suspend Sharma effective immediately.

"This means Gaurav will continue as the MP for Hamilton West and be expected to be present at Parliament, however, he will no longer participate in any caucus events or activities unless caucus' permission is granted," Ardern says.

She says Sharma could potentially rejoin in December upon review, but warns that if he breaches the rules again, he could be expelled.

Sharma accuses the party's leadership of predetermining the outcome of the meeting.

18 August 2022

Sharma continues to level fresh accusations against the Labour Party in his first public interview since his suspension. He tells Newshub he has a secret recording of a phone conversation with a senior Labour MP who warns him his fate was sealed.

He claims new Labour MPs were taught how to avoid leaving a paper trail in order to evade the Official Information Act.

A spokesperson for Ardern says Sharma is misrepresenting conversations with colleagues and that the Labour caucus would consider a motion to expel him.

22 August 2022

Speaking on Morning Report, Ardern rejects Sharma's "repeated unsubstantiated claims".

23 August 2022

Sharma is expelled from the Labour Party caucus after a vote. One MP abstains and one, presumably Sharma, votes against.

In a separate vote - which Sharma is not present for - the caucus unanimously agrees to refer the matter to the wider Labour Party.

Sharma promises to keep pushing for an independent investigation and reiterates his claims that bullying was commonplace.

Dr Gaurav Sharma arrives at parliament before a caucus meeting that will determine if he is expelled from the Labour Party

Gaurav Sharma speaks to media ahead of the vote that saw him expelled from the Labour Party. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

24 August 2022

Sharma, newly independent, accuses the outgoing Speaker Trevor Mallard of ignoring concerns he raised about bullying within Labour. Mallard denies the allegations.

29 August 2022

Sharma publishes a new 4700-word post on social media, in which he complains about three former staff members, also revealing he raised "66 specific issues" about one staffer with Parliamentary Service.

18 October 2022

In a Facebook post, Sharma announces he will resign from Parliament and run in the consequent by-election. He says he will start a new centrist party.

He claims he is pre-empting Labour's plans to use the waka-jumping legislation to remove him from Parliament.

Ardern denies the claim.

"Gaurav may wish to reconsider his decision given he is unnecessarily costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars to trigger a by-election he then intends to stand in," Ardern says in a statement.

3 November 2022

Sharma announces his new New Zealand Momentum Party in a post on Facebook: "We need a change".

5 December 2022

A poll commissioned by the Taxpayers' Union and conducted by Curia puts Sharma in a distant fourth place on 4 percent.

National's Tama Potaka is in the lead on 46 percent, followed by Labour's Georgie Dansey on 33 percent and ACT's James McDowall on 12 percent.

10 December 2022

Sharma finishes fourth in the Hamilton West by-election with 1156 votes. National candidate Tama Potaka wins with 6629 votes.

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