15 Aug 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says bullying issues not widespread

9:31 am on 15 August 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern doesn't believe there are widespread issues of bullying across the party, but says employment matters will be raised from time-to-time in a large workplace.

Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

MP Gaurav Sharma has made accusations of bullying and gaslighting within Parliament, and claimed an unnamed Labour MP and a parliamentary staff member had misused taxpayers' money, though Parliamentary Service has determined no spending rules were broken.

Ardern told Morning Report accusations of bullying levelled at another MP, Anna Lorck, in a story reported on Stuff, were being looked into.

"If issues are raised, and they have been, those issues do need to be investigated, and they are," Ardern said.

"That's the reason we're not commenting on that one, because it is the subject of an employment investigation."

She did not believe it was a widespread issue across the Labour team.

"Across 65 MPs we have, at my last rough count, we have 237 staff that will be in employment.

"There will be from time-to-time issues in those employment relationships.

"I won't necessarily always know if there are employment issues that have been raised, but I do have an expectation that they will be worked through.

"And I would expect that there are interventions, as there were in the case of Dr Sharma."

Interventions over issues raised by Sharma's staff illustrated how things had changed since the 2019 Francis report on bullying and harassment of staff at Parliament, she said.

"There are high expectations on MPs around the way that they work and manage staff.

"He hasn't agreed always with those attempts at constructive interventions."

Ardern had seen nothing to substantiate claims Sharma had made, she said, including on misspending by another MP, and his allegations did not warrant an independent investigation as called for by his Hamilton West electorate committee.

"There's an example there where he's claimed inappropriate use of funds by other MPs. That has not been substantiated

"We need to resolve the issues at hand - those who are employed by him to ensure they're well looked after and that their workplace is positive.

"The second is what we do about the way he's raised this issue.

"He did not raise this either directly or indirectly with me ... so there is an issue here that we have ways in our team of escalating issues that he has not used and so that does present problems but that's for us to work through as a team."

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