Ardern announces separate Party inquiry alongside QC complaints inquiry

Jacinda Ardern announced that the terms of reference for the Maria Dew inquiry into allegations made against a Labour staffer had been decided but would remain secret (at the request of complainants and the alleged offender).

And she said that Dew didn’t want to investigate the party’s handling of their own inquiry, so there would be a separate inquiry into that. terms of reference were also not disclosed.

Stuff – Labour scandal: Party to conduct two separate inquiries into sexual assault allegations

Labour will conduct a separate inquiry into its response to sexual assault allegations made against a former staffer.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the review at her post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, saying the party had failed its members.

The inquiry will sit alongside the initial inquiry by QC Maria Dew into the actual sexual assault and bullying allegations against the staffer.

Labour’s lawyers, Kensington Swan, will finish an already-begun report on the Labour response to the complaints, but this will then be handed to a separate third party lawyer to establish the facts, based solely on paper evidence.

The complainants and the party will then be able to offer comment as part of this report. Ardern said it would be released to the public if those involved were comfortable with that.

The inquiry would remain paper-based as to not subject the alleged victims to multiple interviews, Ardern said.

Asked whether her own office and senior MPs would be subject to the inquiry, Ardern said she expected anyone asked to be involved.

That doesn’t really answer the question. It depends on what and who Labour’s own lawyers check out, and what the “separate third party lawyer” chooses to investigate, or is asked to investigate.

The Prime Minister said the terms of reference for the Dew inquiry were now finalised but the complainants did not wish for them to be released to the public.

Ardern is still making it clear that she accepts that mistakes were made.

“There are no excuses for Labour’s handling of these allegations and I will offer none. Mistakes have been made. It is now my job to address that.”

A lot is riding on how well Ardern addresses that – and how well she is seen to address it. Some details will need to remain confidential, but openness and transparency are very important, or the damage of her reputation will not be undone.

Statements by member of Labour panel and complainant at odds

Simon Mitchell, a lawyer and a member of the Labour Party Council, and one of the three members of the panel that investigated complaints of bullying, abusive behaviour and assaults, has put out a statement claiming to have never been advised that there had been claims of sexual assaults.

The complainant known as ‘Sarah’ has countered with a statement from her lawyer. It claims that emails included allegations of ‘rape’.  That escalates the seriousness of the allegations (from sexual assault).

Two key things are disputed:

  • Whether emails to the panel mentioned a sexual assault
  • Whether there were attachments on the emails that mentioned a sexual assault

There could be a technical explanation for the difference over attachments – it is not uncommon for mail systems to strip attachments from emails.

It is harder to explain the difference over the contents of emails, unless whole emails were not delivered by the mail systems of all three members of thee panel.

From The Spinoff: Two statements on the Labour Party inquiry

Statement of Simon Mitchell

I was part of the New Zealand Labour Party panel that was set up to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct by one member of the Party against another.

The Panel arranged to meet with a number of individuals on 9 March.

On the morning of 9 March the complainant sent an email to me: “Hi simon, i was woundering if anyone today had printer acess? I want to be able to read off of a timeline testimoney I’ve created. Would somone be able to print this before my interview at 10.30?”

The email did not have an attachment.

I replied that she should send it to Dianna Lacy as she was opening up that morning.

The complainant sent a document to Dianna Lacy, who I am told printed a copy and gave it to the complainant.

When the complainant met with the Panel she read from a document when taking us through her concerns. She did not provide us with a copy of that document. At no point did she say that she had been sexually assaulted or tell us about the events that are described in the Spinoff article.

I have subsequently (last week) been given a copy of what the complainant sent to Dianna to print out on the morning of our interview and it does not contain any details of the sexual assault against her as described in the Spinoff article.

I met with the Complainant again on 29 May 2019 to clarify the allegations and the matters that we were investigating. At no time during that meeting did she say that she had been sexually assaulted by the subject of the complaint or disclose the events that are the subject of the Spinoff article.

At the conclusion of the meeting she said that she would provide me with more detailed information in the next few days.

On 10 June 2019 I emailed the complainant following up the documentation that she was to send.

On 11 June 2019 the complainant sent me an email with 3 attachments including what she refers to as her testimony. Neither the testimony nor the other attachments contain any reference to a sexual assault on her or disclose the events that are the subject of the Spinoff article.

On 17 June 2019, after being advised of the outcome, the complainant emailed me and the other members of the panel thanking us for our hard work.

On becoming aware of the Complainant’s allegation that she had provided me with details of the assault on her both in person and in attachments to emails sent to me on 9 March and 11 June 2019, I have had my computer system forensically examined.

There is no evidence of any attachment being sent to me on 9 March 2019.

There were three attachments to the email to me dated 11 June 2019. None of these attachments or the email itself contain any reference to a sexual assault on her or disclose the events that are the subject of the Spinoff article.

Response to Simon Mitchell’s statement

The complainant (the person called “Sarah” in the Spinoff’s article of 9 September) has records of three emails sent by her to Simon Mitchell between 9 March 2019 and 21 May 2019 in which Mr Mitchell was made aware of there being allegations of sexual assault.

These emails have been provided to Labour Party lawyers Kensington Swan, who have been requested to provide the emails to the reviewers conducting the independent review of the internal investigation.

In the earliest email, sent by the complainant on Mar 9, 2019 at 9:35 AM to Mr Mitchell, the complainant attached two documents, one outlining the sexual assault in depth (this document contained sexual assault in the file name of the document) and the other the complainant’s testimony, which also outlines allegations of sexual assault. Attached is a screenshot of this email and the attachments.

The other two emails sent by the complainant to Mr Mitchell were also sent (simultaneously by cc) to the two other members of the investigation panel as well as Labour Party President Nigel Haworth, and another NZ Council Member. These emails were as follows:

  • Email sent by the complainant on Apr 26, 2019 at 6:28 in which the complainant draws the investigation panel’s attention to the seriousness of the allegations, including the allegation of “rape”.
  • Email sent by the complainant on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 11:00 PM in which the complainant again draws the investigation panel’s attention to the seriousness of the allegations, including the allegation of “rape”.

The complainant maintains that she went into detail about the sexual assault during the 9 March interview and that Mr Mitchell was present and engaged.

The complainant is struggling to understand why Mr Mitchell would make these statements when he sat through her giving testimony of the sexual assault.

The complainant is not the only person who made allegations of a sexual nature during the internal investigation.

The complainants are hugely disappointed that Mr Mitchell has come forward with his statement just as the complainants and the Labour Party are making some positive progress.

The complainants await the outcome of the independent review of the internal investigation announced by the PM this afternoon.

Yesterday Jacinda Ardern announced that there would be two inquiries, the already initiated inquiry by Maria Dew that will only re-investigate the complaints, and another inquiry that will investigate the handling of the complaints by the Labour Party.

She also said:

“My view is that is continuing to contest this in the public domains serves nobody. I am absolutely focused here on creating an environment that is a place that complainants can be heard by a QC, not the party, where there is not that contested question over what was told.”

That was after Mitchells statement but before ‘Sarah’s’ statement.

Complainant: Labour Party will have to address archaic power structure

Complainants want the Labour Party to address it’s archaic power structure, and hope that Jacinda Ardern can make it happen.

Alison Mau:

And while the party rows about how it’s going to achieve next steps, the young people are laser-focussed on what needs to happen now. I asked one of them what it was they wanted, now that they really do have everyone’s attention.

The group wants policy change at the top of course, with a complete overhaul of the sexual harm prevention and handling policy. It wants sensitive complaints referred to an expert third party for investigation.

And it wants the party to stop relying on its own supposed expertise, and take note of what the real experts have to say about the prevention of sexual harassment and bullying.

The group is now pinning its hopes on Jacinda Ardern.

They do not yet know when they will meet with her, and some of them are a little overwhelmed at the very thought, but they are refusing to condemn her, and they have a very clear idea of what they’d like to say when they do.

“We will go through our stories with her in more detail,” one of the group told me.

“We would want an open, honest and frank conversation about what it’s like to be a young recruit to Labour in 2019.

“We would tell her how hard we have pushed progressive parts of the party on subjects like abortion law reform – (that) we are not just bitter volunteers, we really care about this stuff.

“(We will tell her) here are some conditions that the party needs to look at, before any of us feel comfortable coming back into these (Labour) spaces.”

Those conditions include requiring all staff to undergo sexual harassment prevention and disclosure handling training. They’d like to see a code of conduct being developed for party volunteers, rolled out party-wide.

They would like the party to finally understand the power imbalances in Labour: “we are not only male dominated, but incredibly white.”

The young woman says she remains a Labour member and “has hope” because she’s seen the party change and adapt before but it will have to address an “archaic” power structure.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/115801937/when-people-speak-out-why-do-we-find-it-so-hard-to-believe

I think that Ardern will understand that there’s  lot riding on this – for the victims of course, but also for the reputation of the Labour Party and it’s attractiveness to young people, especially to young females.

Labour has talked about gender balance for years, but has failed to provide a safe environment for young people, especially females.

Note the names of those who seem to have been responsible for male staffer protection debacle – Nigel, Grant, Andrew, Rob.

And there’s a lot riding on this for Jacinda herself. Her reputation, her primary attractiveness as a new generation leader who is a caring and empathetic champion of gender balance and rights, is on the line.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern must force Labour to face itself in the mirror

So what now?

No leader likes loose ends and there are plenty of those as Ardern prepares to head overseas this week.

So expect her to announce further action before she steps on a plane. But it will have to be more than token – Ardern has to be clear that urgent, and painful, culture change is needed in the organisation she leads.

Many of the party faithful will find it had to swallow that Labour has failed to walk the talk on an issue so core to its – and Ardern’s -identity.

But the only place where they should be pointing the finger is at themselves.

She needs to make sure the repair job from here is done transparently. If the inquiry terms of reference are stacked in favour of the party and the Council, if the report is kept secret like the last one, if there is a lack of openness and no public sign of real repair and progress, then Ardern have failed to live up to her PR, again.

“(We will tell her) here are some conditions that the party needs to look at, before any of us feel comfortable coming back into these (Labour) spaces.”

That cannot be done in secret, because it is not just the group of victims who want change, it’s the future of the party at stake. Prospective party recruits – volunteers and candidates – need to know that Labour has finally learnt from multiple failures and put things right.

Ardern didn’t refute all of Bennett’s claims

Jacinda Ardern sounded like she refuted claims made by Paula Bennett in Parliament on Wednesday, but she only refuted “some of those allegations” – which of course could mean that some of what Bennett said was true or close to the mark.

Stuff ran an inaccurate headline: PM Jacinda Ardern ‘absolutely refutes’ National’s claims

That’s incorrect.

And the article reinforced the misrepresentation of Ardern’s words.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is adamant she was never told about allegations of sexual assault until Monday and “absolutely refuted” claims made by the Opposition that her senior staff and Finance Minister Grant Robertson knew months ago.

National Deputy Leader Paula Bennett claimed in Parliament that Robertson and Ardern’s former chief of staff Mike Munro, chief press secretary Andrew Campbell and director of her leader’s office, Rob Salmond, knew about the allegations of a sexual assault by a Labour Party staffer – and therefore could not believe that Ardern had not been told.

But:

When asked about the claims, Ardern said: “Some of those allegations that I’ve heard I just absolutely refute”.

She only refuted “some of those allegations” and wasn’t specific which ones. That leaves open the possibility –  that some or most of Bennett’s allegations were correct.

And she has refused to refute or challenge or deny specific questions.

NZ Herald: Labour staffer at centre of sexual assault allegations resigns

Some of the complainants were also angered that he had been present a party events, though Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said that people’s safety had always been given the highest priority.

The staffer’s resignation is likely to be welcomed to the complainants, who said that Haworth’s resignation was a step forward but the issue of safety remained.

“We must also not forget that there is still a person facing these serious allegations in the Party, and we need to take immediate action to ensure that no more people can be harmed,” a representative of the complainants said following Haworth’s resignation.

Earlier today, Ardern would not be drawn on whether Finance Minister Grant Robertson had talked to her about sexual assault claims.

Robertson has also refused to say when he was told about sexual assault claims.

I would expect that if Robertson wasn’t told about the sexual assault claims both Robertson and Ardern would have made that clear.

NZ City: Grant Robertson says he sought assurances from the Labour Party after concerns were raised with him

But the Finance Minister won’t say whether those were sexual assault allegations against a staffer.

National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett claims Robertson – and three of the Prime Minister’s senior staff – had known about those for some time.

Robertson says he checked that issues were dealt with appropriately – but won’t confirm or deny Bennett’s claims.

Newstalk ZB: National: PM’s senior staff knew about sexual assault complaints for months

Bennett said the complainants claimed that Grant Robertson knew about the sexual assault claim and had “deep alliances” to the Labour staffer.

Robertson has not commented on what he knew, saying he wanted to respect the privacy of the complainants.

“I’m comfortable with what I’ve done in this process,” he told reporters today.

“There is a process underway with a QC where the voices of these people need to be heard. I have to respect that process.”

This has little if anything to do with respecting privacy and respecting a process being run by the Labour Party (it is not a judicial inquiry). It sounds like an excuse not to front up and be open and honest.

Back to something from the NZH article: “Grant Robertson has said that people’s safety had always been given the highest priority.”

Why would ‘the people’s safety” been given “the highest priority” at party events attended by the accused staffer and by complainants, unless it was known the staffer was facing serious allegations?

Andrea Vance:  How to make the Labour abuse scandal worse

It has been claimed that concerns were raised with Finance Minister Grant Robertson, by one of the complainants, at an event on June 30. He has not responded to questions on this.

By July 12, the complainants had lost patience, decided to go public and sent an anonymous email to several media outlets.

Just over 10 days later, general secretary Andre Anderson wrote to the complainants.

“The email to the media has had the unfortunate effect of increasing the number of people who know something about these matters, which is undermining confidentiality.  I think it would be reasonable for you to assume that the content of the email has been circulated to a number of people,” he wrote.

“I’m aware that at least one of you has been approached by one or more MPs.  But they may only know one of you and the content of the email, rather than all of you.”

He then listed “the people who I either know are aware or I’ve been told are aware”. This included Robertson, though Anderson wrote: “I don’t know how much Grant was told.”

He says that he, or Haworth, knew the following people had been told: Ardern; her former chief of staff Mike Munro; new chief of staff Raj Nahna​; chief press secretary Andrew Campbell;  and the party’s solicitor Hayden Wilson. “These people only know the basics, including [the man’s] identity, but we haven’t told them who you are,” Anderson wrote.

He then says the man, or a member of his family, had told him four other people knew. These included the man’s lawyer Geoff Davenport and E tū senior national industrial officer Paul Tolich, who also sits on the NZ Council. Wellington city councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, and Beth Houston, who works for Cabinet minister Phil Twyford were also listed – both are on the council. “I don’t know the extent of their knowledge,” Anderson said.

MPs Kiritapu Allen and Paul Eagle are also mentioned: “I don’t know the extent of their knowledge,” Anderson said. Eagle has since denied he was in the loop.

The first news reports began to appear in early August, and almost all refer to bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. On August 6, Ardern spoke to reporters at Parliament and said the party would begin a review.

When asked if Labour had a culture problem, she said she couldn’t ignore the fact that complaints had been made.

Ardern has maintained she did not know complaints of serious sexual assault were reported to the party until this week.

“Monday was the first time that I saw details that a complainant had stated that they’d been sexually assaulted and that they’d taken a complaint to the Labour Party. That was the first time,” Ardern said at a press conference on Thursday.

She said when media reports first surfaced, five weeks ago, she “sought assurances” from the party and was told “no complainant had come to them and claimed to them they’d been sexually assaulted”.

She seems to have changed her language now from whether she knew there were sexual allegations to claiming she was told “no complainant had come to them and claimed to them they’d been sexually assaulted”. That leaves a lot of possibilities not refuted or denied.

Ardern still appears to have a problem here, as does Robertson.

Credibility of Ardern, Haworth and Labour increasingly shaky over sexual assault claims

A follow up up on yesterday’s post Labour’s ongoing bungling of dealing with assaults within the party – the reputation of the Labour Party and the credibility of the party president Nigel, and increasingly the leader Jacinda Ardern, are on the line as the bullying and sexual assault claims grow in strength as more people and information comes out in the media.

The Spinoff: Timeline: Everything we know about the Labour staffer misconduct inquiry

Jacinda Ardern has declared herself “deeply concerned and incredibly frustrated” over the allegations levelled at a Labour staffer as well as the party investigation into the man, who remains employed by the Labour leader’s office and denies wrongdoing.

The party president says he is “confident I have handled the process in a professional manner”.

The prime minister says she had been assured that no complainant alleged sexual assault or violence. She says the first she learned of the nature of the allegations that Sarah (a pseudonym) insists she raised repeatedly with the Labour Party, was upon reading the Spinoff’s investigation published on Monday.

A crucial question is whether the Labour Party’s position, that it was not informed of the allegations, is tenable. Just as important is whether its process – for example in repeatedly failing to meet complainants’ requests to review the summaries of their oral evidence – is defensible.

They then detail “an incomplete chronology” based on public statements and numerous documents provided to The Spinoff. This collates much of what has been made known already, but includes corroboration of the authenticity of an Open Letter to Ardern:

An “open letter to the prime minister” is circulated within the party by “Me Too Labour”, an unnamed “group of Labour Party members who are writing to you to urge you to immediately take action regarding the allegations” surrounding the staffer. It makes a series of demands including the resignation of Haworth. The letter, which The Spinoff has verified originates from party members, had by lunchtime attracted more than 100 signatures.

From the open letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are a group of Labour Party members who are writing to you to urge you to immediately take action regarding the allegations of repeated sexual assaults, harassment and predatory behaviour of one of your staff, who is a member of the Labour Party, as detailed in these stories:

https://thespinoff.co.nz/unsponsored/09-09-2019/a-labour-volunteer-alleged-violent-sexual-assault-by-a-senior-staffer-this-is-her-story/?fbclid=IwAR2w3BYBKCccR_hDGB-qNqohdFcXnS157NsZLbBj1yVrjl9M6mBscbQjuRo

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115592299/young-labour-abuse-victims-barred-from-parliament-offices

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/08/exclusive-labour-forced-to-review-investigation-into-bullying-sexual-assault-allegations-against-staffer.html

Some of us are the survivors. Others are their friends and supporters. All of us have watched in horror as this story has unfolded, as the survivors have been repeatedly re-traumatised, and as the Labour Party has run a shambles of a process that has enabled an alleged attacker and shut out his survivors. This issue has been discussed for too long in secret meetings and private conversations, and it is our hope that by drawing attention to it in the light of day we will get the action that the survivors deserve. We are sending this letter to the Labour Party caucus, the entirety of the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party, and to all Labour Party LECs.

What has been outlined in the stories is nothing short of sexual assault. What has been outlined as the party’s process in addressing this assault is nothing short of enabling.

It has been claimed that this letter is a ‘false flag’, part of a conspiracy and attempts have been made to discredit it at The Standard.

Stuff: Complaints about Labour Party staffer taken to his employer

Two of the complainants in an investigation into assault, bullying and harassment by a Labour Party staffer have taken their concerns directly to the man’s employer.

The man, who Stuff cannot name for legal reasons, works in the Labour Leader’s Office, but is a public servant employed by Parliamentary Service.

A 19-year-old woman, who alleges sexual assault, and a young man, who has accused the staffer of throwing a punch at him, wrote to Parliamentary Service boss Rafael Gonzalez-Montero on Tuesday.

But Gonzelez-Montero says his hands are tied because the accusations do not relate to the man’s employment. Neither of the complainants work at Parliament.

It’s hard to understand why this can be deemed not an employment matter.

The man has not been stood down. But he agreed to work from home after allegations surfaced about his conduct in early August.

The issue has a direct effect on the man’s employment.

It is also hard to understand why Ardern is allowing this man to continue to work for her office in the current situation. It could drag her and her Government down.

HDPA (Newstalk ZB): We must question PM’s honesty over Labour sexual assault allegations:

This is what we want to ask her: When did she know that the allegations against a staffer in her office were of an alleged sex crime?

She told media yesterday: ”I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual.”

She told RNZ this morning that she found out yesterday.

“The first I’ve seen the complaints of that nature was when I read then.” Asked when that was, she said “When I saw them in the Spinoff.”

That is very hard to believe. This has been reported in the media for the last five weeks.

If you believe that yesterday was the first the Prime Minister heard of this, then you must believe that the Prime Minister of this country does not watch, read or listen to the news reported in this country.

That she for the last five weeks has missed every bulletin, newspaper and programme that mentioned the fact this guy is alleged to have committed a sexual crime.

Like this on Newshub: “The Labour Party has been forced to review its own investigation into bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault by a Labour staffer.”

Or this: “Two more of the seven people who laid complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and assault by a Labour staffer have told Newshub about their experience of the department’s internal investigation.”

You have to also believe that the Prime Minister didn’t ask what allegation was so serious that a staffer in her office stopped coming to work five weeks ago.

You also have to square it with this comment she made yesterday in her press conference”:

“A month ago I visited New Zealand [Labour Party] Council. Very seriously shared my view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake inquiries around concerning behaviour of members of the Labour Party. But particularly they are not the appropriate place to ever undertake an investigation into a sexual assault. And that would be their view too.”

Why would she say to the Labour Party council that they were not the right people to investigate an alleged sex crime, if she didn’t know the allegations were of a sex crime?

Because she did. She did know.

On the 6th of August, one day after the story broke in the media, Mike Hosking raised it with her right here on this station.

He asked her: “How many people have quit your party as a result of this investigation into this bloke who may or may not have sexual assaulted someone?”

Her response was: “I’m going to be very careful answering that question Mike because this is an inquiry and work is still underway and it is still a party matter.”

Exactly when the Prime Minister knew is important for a bunch of reasons.

Did she fail in her duty of care to staffers and volunteers?  Was this supposed to be covered up? But mostly it’s important because this is now about her integrity

It’s becoming increasingly hard to believe her version of events, and possibly this is the first time that we’ve had reason to question Jacinda Ardern’s honesty.

This is not just Ardern’s honesty and credibility at stake. Labour’s chances in the next election may be severely compromised by this.

It has been claimed that the man facing the allegations is seen by Labour as an important part of their campaign team. He may be more toxic than helpful. It’s hard to understand why Ardern can’t see this. Perhaps she is (or has been)too close to the accused person.

Grant Robertson also seems to be involved in this, and may have been trying to distance Ardern from the growing issue.

Newshub: Emails show Labour was sent details of sexual assault allegations against party staffer

Newshub has obtained emails that show Labour was sent details six months ago of sexual assault allegations against a party staffer.

The party continues to deny it knew the claims against the man included sexual assault, but on Tuesday the Prime Minister said the party President Nigel Haworth has to go if it’s proven he mishandled the allegations.

Newshub has been forwarded an email sent by a complainant to one the members of the Labour Party investigating panel on the day of her interview.

She wanted to be able to read off a timeline and testimony. She asked if someone could print the document before her interview which was taking place an hour later.

A document “to print sexual assault experience” was attached.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was shown the document on Tuesday morning.

She told Newshub, “You’ll understand why we will want to take away this and look at it directly.”

Labour agrees the email was sent but claims there were no documents attached. The complainant says all three members of the investigating panel were given a printed copy.

Newshub revealed in August Finance Minister Grant Robertson was aware of the investigation and some complaints, but he’s refusing to say how much he knew.

“I am not going to comment any further than what I have on that because I will be undermining the privacy,” he told Newshub.

In an interview on RNZ’s Checkpoint yesterday a man who claims to be the victim of an attempted physical assault and a physical assault indicated the accused man had family connections to the Labour Party.

Protecting him looks increasingly untenable.


And more just posted at The Spinoff: Fresh evidence emerges confirming Labour was told of sexual assault allegations on June 11

The woman who alleges sexual assault by a man currently employed by the Labour Leader’s office has expressed dismay at the response of the Labour Party president, Nigel Howarth, who yesterday issued a public statement doubling down on his position that sexual assault allegations contained in investigation published by The Spinoff were never made known to anyone involved in the Labour inquiry.

“He was like a fatherly figure to these six women, and he’s let us down,” she told The Spinoff.

Her comments come as a second email has newly emerged which shows Sarah, the pseudonym by which she is described in The Spinoff’s story, sending a written account of sexual abuse allegations to the Labour Party.

In the email, dated June 11 and sent to the three members of the investigation panel, she directs them to an attached document which contains clear reference to her allegation of being sexually assaulted by the man.

This is on top of another email, sent on the morning of her interview to the chair of the panel, requesting that attached documents be printed. He asked her to send it on to the party official who was overseeing access to Labour headquarters, which she did. According to Sarah four copies of those documents were printed and provided to the panel.

The Labour Party has told The Spinoff that no attachments were received by the investigation chair, and that no one involved in the investigation was aware that any of the people appearing before them was alleging sexual assault.

Sarah told The Spinoff yesterday she was “disappointed” by what she regarded as a “cowardly” statements on the part of the Labour Party. She maintained that her traumatic experience, as detailed Monday on The Spinoff, was first described to Labour at a meeting in October 2018 with Nigel Haworth and general secretary Dianna Lacy. She said this was reiterated to the investigating sub-committee in March 2019.

“We’ve had so many email exchanges that talk about the nature of the investigation,” she said. ““I’m incredibly saddened … Standing by a process you know is flawed, a process you know retraumatised and put further young women at risk is cowardly.”

 

Ardern hypes but warns ‘be patient’ as Labour Party wants more

Jacinda Ardern is warning her supporters to be patient as the Labour Party approved a policy wish list at the conference in Dunedin in the weekend.

She has hyped up “let’s keep doing this” will more quietly warning that they can’t do everything immediately.

ODT:  $217 million for special needs aides

“Be patient.”

That was the New Zealand Labour Party’s message to members during its annual conference, held in Dunedin over the weekend, and it was a message Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirmed in her leader’s speech yesterday.

“We are also balancing financial security with the pressing social needs that the Government promised to deliver on,” Ms Ardern told a 1200-strong Town Hall audience yesterday.

“That is what we were elected to do.

“We can’t do everything at once, just like it doesn’t make sense to spend every cent you earn, but we are investing carefully in the areas that need it most. Things like health, housing, education.”

Afterwards Ms Ardern told reporters Labour members did not have raised expectations about what the Government could achieve.

“I would like to think we have always been pragmatic. You only get the chance to make change if you are in the position to govern, so we have always been a party which has both an activist base of people who go out and knock on doors, but with the purpose of giving us the chance to make change.

“There will always be a debate about what that change will look like.”

This may have been in part a response to the party wish list that came out of ther conference, and also the growing criticism from the left wing that change isn’t coming fast enough and isn’t revolutionary enough.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern’s message to the party faithful – ‘we can’t do it all’

Ardern’s biggest problem is managing expectations after Labour’s nine years in the political wilderness.

She works hype well, but needs to try to tone down expectations of what is realistically possible.

Her speech to the 1200-strong audience was one of the few events in the three-day long programme that was open to the media.

The rest of the conference took place behind closed doors including a session where local branches and committees put up their policy wish lists for a vote.

But Ardern’s speech tacitly acknowledged that some of the most trenchant criticism her Government faces includes from the left about policies like Kiwibuild, and her Government’s self-imposed spending limits under its Budget Responsibility Rules.

She went on the defensive over Kiwibuild helping thousands of young families into a home “not through a subsidy but the Government using our scale and buying power to do what the market hasn’t.”

The first KiwiBuild houses have been bought off the market that have already been built or planned.

“We can’t do everything at once, just like it doesn’t make sense to spend every cent you earn,” she told the conference.

But many of Labour’s grassroots are impatient for more radical change.

Some of the remits passed by the conference included a proposal to subsidise or make free disposable or reusable menstrual products; universally free dental care, and extending ACC to cover illness or disability.

Many of those remits will struggle to become government policy, even with the unanimous backing from the rank and file. A conference vote only kicks them up to Labour’s policy committee, and after that its platform committee – and after that they have to be vetted by the party’s funding group, which includes the likes of Finance Minister Grant Robertson. They will be wary of anything which doesn’t pass the political sniff test.

And any policies that makes it through all those hoops might not survive coalition negotiations after the election, like much of Labour’s manifesto this time round.

Ardern’s catch cry that she rallied the troops with at the election was “let’s do this”, and it was one she reissued at the weekend – but with that caveat that Labour can’t do it all at once.

Ardern finished her conference speech with:

And I would finish with a big giant PS,

Let’s keep doing this.

Let’s keep doing what? The hype, hoopla and self congratulation?

Because out the other side of her mouth Ardern is warning they can’t keep doing what everyone in the party wants.

 

 

 

Ardern’s speech at Labour conference

Jacinda Ardern has given her speech at the Labour Party conference. I haven’t been following it so will post some reactions

Scoop: Speech: Ardern – Labour Party Conference

New Zealand Government: New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

The Coalition Government will fund a new workforce of educational professionals who will work in schools to ensure children with diverse learning needs get the support they need to learn, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

In a game-changer for students, parents and teachers, approximately 600 Learning Support Coordinators will be employed as early as the beginning of 2020. This will be the first tranche of these positions.

They will work alongside teachers, parents and other professionals to give our students the individualised support they deserve.

“These coordinators will not only help unlock the potential of thousands of children with learning needs, they’ll free up teachers so all children get more quality classroom time to learn,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“A big concern I hear regularly from teachers is the amount of time they spend trying to get support for children with additional needs. The new Learning Support Coordinators are a win-win; kids with both high and moderate needs will get on-the-ground support, parents will have a specialised point of contact and teachers will have more time to teach.

“This $217 million investment over four years follows a major spending increase in Budget 2018, and brings the extra funding the Coalition Government has put into learning support to half a billion dollars. That is a huge investment in our first year into supporting both our kids and our teachers.

“One in five New Zealand children has a disability or other learning and behavioural needs and it’s been too hard, for too long, for them to get support at the right time. Learning support has been neglected for more than a decade.

“The Coalition Government has listened to the parents and students who’ve asked for more support, and teachers who have been calling for this new fully-funded role.

“Learning Support Coordinators will be key people at the heart of a new learning support model, developed by Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin, through her draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan,” said Jacinda Ardern.

The announcement delivers on a number of the 26 recommendations from the Labour, New Zealand First and Green parties’ minority report to the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Inquiry in the last Parliament. It is also consistent with the Labour and Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement.

 

Robertson signals 2019 ‘Wellbeing Budget’

In his speech to the Labour Party conference this weekend Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has pre-labelled his next year budget as a ‘Wellbeing Budget’.

Budget 2018 was called Foundations for the Future, and I am proud of what we are building. But, there is more to do. More to do to build an economy that is fit for purpose for the middle part of the 21st century; an economy that is focused on future generations: more productive, more sustainable and more inclusive.

To that end, in Budget 2019 we are making a significant change that will embody our values. Budget 2019 will be New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Budget.

It will be the first budget with that label, but it won’t be the first budget by a long shot that has tried to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Last year, and the year before that (and the year before that), I have spoken about the limitation of tracking our success on a narrow measure such as GDP growth. Well, now we are doing something about it. We are moving beyond GDP to not just look at our financial health, but also the wellbeing of our people, the health of our environment and the strength of our communities.

As the Minister of Finance I will report on all of those measures at Budget time, including on how we are tracking at reducing child poverty.

It is essential that this is based on a robust and credible framework. At the core of our approach will be the Living Standards Framework developed by the Treasury, based on the work of the OECD. It is grounded in core economic concepts to assess the stock of our wellbeing. So, you will hear about financial capital, human capital, natural capital and social capital.

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard. This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation. It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing. It is a work in progress. We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

The Living Standards Framework is designed to outlive any particular Government. It will be a critical input to our Wellbeing Budget, but it will not be the only one. We are using the Child Wellbeing Strategy, evidence from here and overseas about intergenerational success and the advice of experts such as government science advisors.

And that is the critical difference in our Wellbeing Budget. Not only are we going to measure our success differently, we are putting our Budget together on a wellbeing basis as well.

We have identified five core priorities that will define our first Wellbeing Budget. I will announce the detail of these during the Budget Policy Statement next month, but they cover the areas where we think the outcomes will make a substantive difference to both our current and future wellbeing.

These priorities will include sustainably growing and modernising our economy, lifting children’s wellbeing, and yes, we will finally be giving mental health the priority and focus that it deserves.

As we speak, my Ministerial colleagues are working together to produce initiatives that will be squarely focused on long-term intergenerational outcomes. This means we are breaking down the silos of government to form a long-term view.

And we have already started.

He gives some examples.

When we first came into Government we faced a decision about what to do with Waikeria Prison. We were told that we should build a 2,500 bed American mega-prison because it had the cheapest per-prisoner cost. But maybe, just maybe, we could do better if built a smaller prison, with a mental health unit attached to address the underlying causes. And if we focused on more drug and alcohol rehabilitation and more on prisoner housing to support re-integration. That is what we have done and that is a wellbeing approach.

Better mental health support and drug and alcohol rehabilitation have been talked about for a long time, and attempts had been made to address these issues more effectively, but of course better can be done if adequate resources are made available. It will cost more initially, but as Bill English used to promote, it is a social investment that will pay dividends in the longer term.

And just this week the Prime Minister, Phil Twyford and Kelvin Davis announced a once-in-a-generation community renewal in Porirua. Now, this could have been a project just to build more houses, but we see it as a major integrated urban development plan – including education, recreation, social services, and yes, lots of houses. And delivered in partnership with iwi and local council. That is a wellbeing approach.

Al of those things are done now, but perhaps it is new to take an integrated approach to a whole community renewal at the same time.

And we are serious about embedding this approach. Chris Hipkins and I are both working on the most fundamental change to the State Sector and Public Finance legislation in thirty years. This will ensure that collaboration and wellbeing is embedded in how our government agencies work.

Again i don’t think this general approach is new, but if more emphasis is put on improving the wellbeing of people then it could make a real difference – as long as they can avoid getting bogged down with bureaucracy and they can break cycles of dependency.

So delegates, 2019 will be the Wellbeing Budget, and the first steps in changing our yardstick of success.

With finances looking healthy it is a good opportunity to invest (spend more) to achieve longer term gains in wellbeing and in costs of providing state care and assistance.

We will get a better idea of what Robertson is aiming at next May when his ‘wellbeing budget’ is announced.

However if he gets the targets and balances right it may be years if not a decade before the results will be apparent. Wise investments take time.

Full transcript of Robertson’s speech:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1811/S00028/grant-robertson-speech-to-labour-party-conference.htm

Labour 2018 conference after 1 year in Government

Labour is having their annual conference in Dunedin this weekend. In part they will be celebrating their first year in Government under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern. She will give a big speech tomorrow.

From their website:  Year That Was: 365 days in Government!

One whole year. And what a year it’s been.

We’ve certainly achieved a whole lot.

Right off the starting block, we were keen to get stuck in and make some real positive change for New Zealand.

They list a lot of their successes (and not surprisingly no failures). Ardern has something to say:

More from her tomorrow with her Leader’s Speech – New Zealand Labour Party Annual Conference 2018

Join Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern for her first ever Annual Conference speech as the Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. Celebrate this special occasion with us at the Dunedin Town Hall on Sunday 4 November at 1.30pm.

If I could I would have had a look (I’ve been to ACT and NZ First conferences in Dunedin in the past) but I have other commitments tomorrow.

Maori seats should be ‘entrenched’ or scrapped?

Last week a bill seeking to ‘entrench’ the Māori seats in Parliament was drawn from the members’ ballot last week. Are the Māori seats an important part of our democracy, or outdated and unnecessary under MMP?

RNZ: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats.

Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

The protection of Māori electoral seats was vital, Mr Tirikatene said.

“I think they’re unique to Aotearoa, it symbolises our Treaty of Waitangi partnership and they’ve been a long standing, important part of our parliamentary democracy.”

‘Entrenchment’ is a curious term to use here. If the bill passes it would make it a lot harder to get a big enough vote in Parliament to scrap the Māori seats so it may effectively entrench them, but it doesn’t guarantee they would always be retained.

Entrenchment (Oxford):

1 [with object] Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.

1.1 Establish (someone) in a position of great strength or security.

‘by 1947 de Gaulle’s political opponents were firmly entrenched in power’

1.2 Apply extra legal safeguards to (a right guaranteed by legislation)‘steady progress was made in entrenching the individual rights of noblemen’

2 [with object] Establish (a military force) in trenches or other fortified positions.

Origin: Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘place within a trench’): from en-, in- ‘into’ + trench.

Labour currently have about 37% of the vote in Parliament, and 100% of the Māori seats, they would easily stop them from being scrapped if a 75% vote was required. Greens also support retaining the Māori seats, and while National have previously had a policy to scrap them they have softened on this.

Winston Peters and therefore NZ First have strongly supported scrapping the seats.

So does Barry Soper: Seven Maori seats are obsolete

The seven Maori seats in Parliament should be scrapped. The need for them has long passed.

Originally they were only meant to be there for five years to give Maori the right to vote in the general election 150 years ago this year. That was extended by another five years but in 1876 it was extended indefinitely.

The Royal Commission, which proposed our MMP electorate system, said if it was adopted the Maori seats should go. It rightly argued that under MMP all parties would have to pay attention to Maori voters and their concerns and they felt their continued existence would marginalise those concerns.

Around that time the seats came the closest they’ve ever come to abolition with an Electoral Reform Bill, but it failed after strong opposition from Maori.

The seats have been something of a political football ever since. The First MMP election in 1996 saw them all going to New Zealand First, which lost the lot of them just three years later. At the last election Winston Peters promised a binding referendum to consider their abolition and on reducing the number of MPs to 100. His coalition deal with Labour’s put paid to that.

Before the 2008 election John Key promised to get rid of the seats but in his first coalition deal embraced the Maori Party which served as National’s insurance policy right up until the last election.

And today there are the most Maori MPs ever in Parliament, 29 with our indigenous culture’s heritage, or 24 percent of Parliament and most coming from the general electorate roll.

All of the political leaders with the exception of Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw lay claim to Maori heritage. So surely Maori are, or should be, better catered for then ever before.

The seats have become redundant, other than a political crutch for Labour, they serve no purpose and rather than entrenching them, Parliament should be doing away with them.

Should the seats be protected for Māori, or are they give an unfair electoral advantage to Labour?

Is this a real problem, or a self interested jack-up?

Would Tirikatene be an MP if there were no Māori seats? Possibly now via Labour’s list, but probably now not if he hadn’t already been an MP.

The bill would require the support of NZ First or National to pass, so it seems far from guaranteed.

What about public support? 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll August 2017:

  • Should be kept 55%
  • Should be abolished 13%
  • Should be abolished some time in the future 23%

Is the Tirikatene bill trying to fix something that isn’t broken?