18 Aug 2022

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma speaks to media for first time since suspension

10:15 pm on 18 August 2022

The Labour Party's caucus is set to meet again after MP Gaurav Sharma made his first public comments since he was suspended earlier this week.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 02: Dr Gaurav Sharma arrives at a Labour caucus meeting on November 02, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Labour's Jacinda Ardern claimed a second term as prime minister after claiming a majority in the 2020 New Zealand General Election on Saturday 17 October, claiming 64 seats.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Hamilton West MP Gaurav Sharma. Photo: Getty / Hagen Hopkins

On Tuesday, Sharma was suspended after he made serious allegations of bullying against fellow MPs, including past and present whips.

The decision was made after Sharma had taken his concerns to the media, including writing a column for the New Zealand Herald, rather than using the usual party processes for dealing with disputes.

Sharma has complained, however, that using those mechanisms have got him nowhere, saying he had tried dealing with the concerns through the party whip's office and Parliamentary Service for the past year and a half.

At the time, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said Sharma was on his final warning and if he breached the rules again, he would be expelled.

But in his first interview since his suspension, Sharma continued making allegations.

On Thursday night, he told Newshub he had made secret recordings of another MP, who told him his fate was sealed at a secret meeting the night before caucus made the decision.

"There is something very big going on here and there is a cover-up," he told Newshub.

Ardern previously said the suspension was not predetermined at a meeting the night before, and Sharma was not asked to attend that informal meeting "because people did not feel they could have an open conversation with him".

He was, however, invited to attend the full caucus meeting the next day but did not, she said.

Sharma told Newshub he and his fellow MPs in the 2020 intake were also coached on how to keep information hidden from the public.

He also said some staff in the prime minister's office could also choose to receive information as the Labour leader's office, in order to prevent an Official Information Act request.

In a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson for Ardern said the party's caucus would meet again on Tuesday next week to consider a motion to expel Sharma from the caucus.

"Gaurav has repeatedly breached his colleagues trust, and caucus was clear that should there be further breaches such as this then further steps would be taken."

The spokesperson said Sharma's decision to speak to media reinforced the caucus' decision to suspend the MP.

"On Tuesday the Caucus suspended Gaurav on the basis of repeated breaches of trust. This latest example of releasing and misrepresenting conversations with his colleague's reinforces that decision and will be discussed by caucus.

"As the Prime Minister said on Tuesday we anticipated Gaurav would continue to re-litigating matters in this way.

"He has still not responded to our communications about entering into mediation, instead using the media to make his points."

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