12 Aug 2022

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma: 'I stand by my claims of ongoing bullying'

7:56 pm on 12 August 2022

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma has launched another broadside at his own party, posting a lengthy statement on social media this evening.

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Photo: Twitter / Dr Gaurav Sharma

Sharma says he stands by his claims of ongoing bullying by Parliamentary Service and the Labour whips.

The backbencher this week said MP-on-MP bullying was rampant within Parliament and facilitated by those supposed to prevent it.

Sharma wrote a column in the New Zealand Herald in which he accused Parliamentary Service of working hand-in-hand with the offices of party whips and leaders - including the prime minister's office.

But the NZ Herald today quoted a former staffer to the MP, who said there was an alleged culture of bullying that existed in his office, which they claimed was so bad they needed counselling.

Speaking about the issue today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was, at its core, a dispute over employment issues within Sharma's office.

"As a result of that he has sought an alternative solution via different individuals - via the whips, via for instance a member in my office. But ultimately at its heart this relates to an employment matter within his office where we've sought to find resolution which hasn't always been welcomed," she said.

She said Parliament, like any other workplace, must be free from bullying and that expectation applied to everyone, including MPs.

She said she was confident successive Labour whips and Parliamentary Service had done their jobs appropriately.

"My primary concern at the moment is Gaurav's wellbeing. I've reached out to assure him that we will reach out with the support he feels he needs. Members of our team are in contact with him to make sure that he is okay."

But Sharma hit back this evening with the lengthy 2600-word statement posted on his Facebook page, in which the Hamilton West MP provided a timeline of his interactions with Parliamentary Services and the Labour Party Whips.

He claimed he had been gaslit, shouted at, degraded in front of caucus members and told that he was a terrible MP.

"I stand by my claims that I have been subjected to ongoing bullying by the Parliamentary Service and the Labour Whips and none of my concerns have been investigated.

"Neither has there been an investigation into any claims against me as per the last written contact from the Deputy CEO of Parliamentary Service."

A Labour spokesperson reiterated that the party disputed Sharma's allegations.

"As previously stated there have been ongoing issues between Gaurav and some of his staff that his Facebook post provides further confirmation of.

"We believe we've handled this matter appropriately and in accordance with the normal processes when staffing issues are raised."

In a statement earlier today, chief whip Duncan Webb said his office became aware of issues between Dr Sharma and his staff a year ago, and had been trying to work with him to address issues between him and his staff as recently as yesterday.

He said hiring into Sharma's office had been paused to provide "further assistance".