Welfare overhaul announcement ‘imminent’

Jacinda Ardern has said that an announcement on aims to overhaul welfare delivery is ‘imminent’, but it will rely on yet another working group so any decisions are likely to be quite a way down the track.

Some (Greens especially) have proposed a much more generous ‘no questions asked’ welfare payment system.

The Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement stated:

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

That is toned down from what Metiria Turei promoted before crashing during last year’s election campaign, in a policy labelled ‘Mending the Safety Net’:

We will:

  • Increase all core benefits by 20 percent
  • Increase the amount people can earn before their benefit is cut
  • Increase the value of Working For Families for all families
  • Create a Working For Families Children’s Credit of $72 a week
  • Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits
  • Reduce the bottom tax rate from 10.5 percent to 9 percent on income under $14,000
  • Introduce a new top tax rate of 40 percent on income over $150,000 per year.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $17.75 in the first year and keep raising it until it’s 66 percent of the average wage.

Our welfare system should provide effective support for people who need it, while they need it. The social safety net should stop families from falling into poverty and guarantee a basic, liveable income. That’s what it means to live in a decent, compassionate society.

Punishing people through benefit sanctions, cuts, and investigations has not worked. Rather than giving people ‘incentives’, it traps them in a cycle of poverty and puts children’s wellbeing at risk. Children suffer when the welfare system punishes their parents, and in the long term, so does society. It is never ok for the government to use poverty or the threat of poverty as a weapon.

The Green Party’s plan will ensure the people on the highest incomes pay their fair share and those that need help are treated with respect and dignity.

That last paragraph looks like code for a major redistribution – one could wonder if it aims at ‘fair share’ being equal share, no matter what work one does or doesn’t do.

Stuff: Welfare overhaul working group details leak out online

Details of the “imminent” Government overhaul of the welfare system have emerged in online job listings.

The job listings show the Government is setting up a welfare overhaul “expert advisory group” supported by a secretariat of officials from different departments.

The listings for a project manager and strategic communications advisor were posted in March of this year on the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) website.

In the job description MSD write “the Government has committed, through the Labour/Greens Confidence and Supply Agreement, to overhaul the Welfare System. This work will be led by an independent group of Experts, supported by a Secretariat of officials from MSD, the Treasury and Inland Revenue.”

The listings have emerged as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said an announcement on the welfare overhaul is “imminent”.

Ardern has made clear that some sanctions would remain after the overhaul.

She said a culture change was needed at Work and Income, but acknowledged that “by and large” case managers did a good job.

“Culture change is difficult. We are coming in after nine years of there being an expectation that there be a singular focus on reducing benefit numbers and of course we want people in work, we want people who are seeking work to be able to find work, but I think it has tipped over into a space where it actually denying people who need help the help they need,” Ardern said.

This reform could be a real test of Labour versus Green aims.

Greens want a radical change to generous state assistance as a right and a choice. This may meet some resistance from people who pay tax, but is likely to be supported by those who can’t work, and also by those who don’t want to work.

If I was offered the option of a comfortable income from the Government I would be very tempted to retire early.

We already have sustained high immigration because we don’t have enough New Zealand workers for a number of industries. If we have more of a choice to not work would higher immigration to compensate be acceptable?

Welfare reform is a big and contentious issue.

There is no doubt that the current system has serious flaws and is punitive, but it will be difficult – and potentially very expensive – to make major changes.

For the Greens to get what they want it will involve much more than welfare reform – their wish list would require…

  • welfare reform
  • tax and revenue reform
  • employment reform
  • serious reconsideration of immigration

…and probably more

If it ended up how some indicate they want it too it would involve a radical shift towards virtual socialism.

Colmar Brunton poll – little change

Polls have been scarce lately. 1 news have their second poll of the year. It doesn’t show anything drastic – a bit of movement from Labour to their Government partners.

  • National 44% (up 1)
  • Labour 43% (down 5)
  • Greens 6% (up 1)
  • NZ First 5% (up 2)
  • Maori Party 1%

So Labour have eased back a bit after a difficult period, and National have held up despite the exit of Bill English and Steven Joyce – it is the first poll since Simon Bridges took over leadership.

Greens and NZ First have both improved marginally (at Labour’s expense).

  • Refuse to answer 4%
  • Undecided 8% (down 1)

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 37% (down 4)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (up 9)
  • Winston Peters 5% (up 1)

The gloss seems to have worn off Ardern a bit. It’s early for Bridges, he will still hardly be known by most of the electorate.

Peters doesn’t seem to be liked outside NZ First support.

Poll conducted 7-11 April 2018.

What try hard bollocks.

National are likely to be pleased a change of leadership has barely changed their support.

 

Labour slow to restore Canterbury democracy

After slamming the last Government’s sacking of the Canterbury regional council ECan, and of promising to quickly restore democracy, Labour is now in no hurry to act.

Christchurch Labour MP Megan Woods in 2016: ECan legislation an affront to democracy

The Government’s ECan Legislation is an affront to Cantabrians and continues to deny them a democratically elected regional council, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods.

“There is simply no logical, rational or compelling case for a system of regional government in Canterbury that is anti-democratic and radically different from other parts of the country.

“This is not the return to democracy we were promised. This is a continuation of government control.

“It has been six years since the Government sacked the regional council. It is time to put regional governance back where it belongs. That regional governnment has to be in the hands of Cantabrians. There is no justification for controlling Canterbury through appointments made in Wellington.

“I have a Private Members Bill in the ballot to return to a fully elected council at this year’s elections. That Bill stays in the ballot because Labour backs Cantabrians to run their own region,” says Megan Woods.

Labour’s policy on Canterbury (August 2017): Unlocking Potential – Labour’s Plan for Canterbury

Our plan has eight crucial components, each demonstrating Labour’s commitment to get the region moving – and thriving.

Labour will:

  • Restore full democracy to Environment Canterbury

Stuff (November 2017): ECan elections unlikely before 2019

A return to democracy at Environment Canterbury (ECan) appears unlikely before 2019, despite Labour’s long-standing objection to the status quo.

The last Government removed democratically-elected councillors in 2009 and replaced them with seven commissioners the following year.

One of the sacked councillors, Eugenie Sage, is now Minister of Conservation.

Despite promises by former Environment Minister Nick Smith to restore democracy in 2013, it was pushed to 2016. A full return to democracy was delayed again until 2019 – half the current council is elected and half appointed.

During the election campaign, Labour said full elections would be restored “as soon as possible,” but it is understood that is unlikely to happen before 2019, when elections were expected anyway.

Newsroom (today): Labour’s big miss in Canterbury

The Labour-led Government has failed a crucial test in Canterbury.

Despite making an election issue out of a return to full democracy at Canterbury’s regional council, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed to Newsroom it will follow the last Government’s timetable of waiting until next year’s scheduled local body elections.

That’s little payback for a surge of support for Labour in Christchurch at last year’s election. The decision not to call early elections will disappoint many – including Mahuta’s ministerial colleague Eugenie Sage, who was one of 14 councillors sacked by the National-led Government in 2010, mainly over claims it was mismanaging water.

Labour’s go-slow on Canterbury democracy even leaves it open to a swipe from ex-Environment Minister Nick Smith, who made the National-led Government’s decision, jointly with then Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, to sack councillors at Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Smith, a fading flower in National, says Labour “screamed from the rooftops” in opposition and if it believed the strength of its rhetoric it would have moved to restore a fully elected council. “I think they know, as I did, that a sensible transition through this term of council and full elections in 2019 is actually the right thing for Canterbury.”

After this length of time without an elected regional council it makes sense to restore a democratic body during the Local Body elections next year, but Labour have failed to fulfil their promise. At least they haven’t set up an inquiry on this.

Trade too important to be decided by public opinion?

Consultation with the public has become more important in a modern democracy such as we have in New Zealand, but a representative democracy gives the ultimate responsibility for decisions to MPs, especially Ministers. Apart from constitutional issues that is generally best.

Public opinion, and especially opinion that dominates PR and social media, may not always be right – public opinion can be formed  formed and  fought for with superficial and often distorted knowledge and information.

And popular opinion may not always support the interests of the greater good.

There can be a difference between popular opinion and populist opinion. Ongoing public pressure has resulted in an escalating prison population, but this appears to be a very costly failure.

Ordinary people may not have the depth of knowledge to understand some issues properly. Like trade.

Dominion editorial: Tinker with trade at your peril

Since Labour came to power, Trade Minister David Parker has made subtle, yet significant, changes to the way the Government communicates about trade to the public.

Rather than simply talk up the benefits of selling goods and services overseas, Parker has validated concerns by making changes, in the name of sovereignty, pledging to ban foreigners from buying residential property.

He has also offered a more sympathetic ear, even as he points out opponents are often blaming trade, when their real concern is something else, such as the inevitable change brought on by new technology.

This approach appears to have taken the heat out of the debate, allowing Parker to sign the CPTPP with little fuss from the public, something National could never have dreamed of achieving.

Parker may well have helped take the heat out of the debate, but I think there is more to the dramatic reduction in TPP opposition – Labour and the Greens were prominently involved in the TPP protests in 2016, which were as much anti-National government as anti-TPP, an obvious political ploy.

Now that Labour leads the government they obviously wouldn’t get involved in stoking protests against themselves, and the Green  opposition has been muted apart from some token protest, in part so as not to appear to be divisive of the government they are a part of.

‘Popular opinion’ is often manipulated by minority political parties for political purposes.

The benefits of trade are not necessarily understood by everyone, partly because they are simply taken for granted.

That does not mean that the direction of New Zealand’s trade policy should change in any material way.

Every year New Zealand sells tens of billions of dollars worth of goods and services around the world, boosting our material standards of living.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs are directly linked to international trade, but even that measure does not capture its significance.

Whether or not any particular New Zealander works in a trade-related industry, this trade is, to a large extent, what gives the dollars in their pockets meaning and value, especially when buying goods or services from overseas.

Parker appears keen to set stricter conditions for future trade deals, while maintaining an openly pro-trade stance.

An openly pro-trade stance may cause friction between Labour and the Greens, and also with Winston Peters and NZ First, especially now that Russian trade deal moves have been put on hold.

Provisions which would allow foreign investors to sue New Zealand overseas – provisions which are almost never used – will be out. Environmental and labour standard protection clauses may be required.

These changes are well-meaning and may be beneficial.

But what if the process becomes a debate about whether trade is beneficial?

Just because the new Labour Government has managed to take the heat out of the debate in recent months, it would be risky to assume this is a lasting peace.

Now that the Greens have a second leader again the peace may be threatened by a more left wing, more radical, less trade friendly Marama Davidson.

Overseas, the rise of Donald Trump and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union appears in no small way to be driven by anti-globalisation sentiment, exploited by populist politicians.

What if this sentiment was to catch on here?

It wouldn’t look unusual for Winston Peters to try to drive a populist anti-globalisation sentiment, but it would be could be conflicting for the Greens to oppose international corporations and non-green trade in a similar manner to Donald Trump.

Consultation has become an essential part of public process at all levels. The problem is that in some cases, the public may not deliver a well-reasoned response.

Business groups have admitted not enough has been done to prove the case for global trade to the public.

But anything resembling a public education campaign driven by corporate interests may backfire.

Parker needs to run a process which is sufficiently “comprehensive and inclusive”, without running the risk that it could end up damaging New Zealand’s economic interests.

Can Parker keep Peters and Davidson on side with this approach?

Trade may almost be said to be too important to be left to public opinion.

That’s unlikely to deter populist politicians, especially as we approach 2020 and the next election, and it’s unlikely to deter parties with significantly different ideas on trade to Labour and National.

One of the anti-TPP protest organisers was Barry Coates, who then became an MP for part of the last term, and was expected to remain an MP until the Green upheaval last campaign. He has still been working against the CPTPP.

Parker is one of the Government’s best performing ministers. But he could have a challenge promoting trade against public opinion and partner parties.

 

MP for Rongotai in odd incidents

Paul Eagle ditched his role as Wellington’s deputy mayor to take on the safe seat of Rongotai after Annette King decided to retire from Parliament.

He popped up in the political news yesterday when he questioned RNZ boss Richard Griffin in a selection committee meeting yesterday.

Labour members of the committee got in on the action too. Paul Eagle questioned Griffin as to why he had informed Lee of Hirschfeld’s resignation before a press release was circulated around RNZ staff and the public.

Eagle asked when Griffin first contacted Lee. Seeing Eagle’s questions were going to lead to a suggestion of impropriety, Griffin’s response was terse.

He said that he first contacted Lee “three minutes prior to the time we put out a press release, as a matter of courtesy, which may be foreign to some of those in politics”.

He then checked himself.

“I’m sorry that’s unnecessary,” he said.

Eagle then asked if the phone call to Lee was courtesy or “collusion”.

“That’s a ridiculous question with due respect,” said Griffin. “It’s a matter of obvious courtesy, the suggestion that it is somehow…” Griffin paused, apparently frustrated, “let’s not go any further, it gets out of control”.

– from Newsroom Fiery hearing fails to put RNZ bungle to bed

Then today he featured in an exchange on Reddit – Paul Eagle MP is a peice of shit.

He is the most entitled, rude and disrespectful man I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. It says a lot about a person’s character how they treat those with less power than them and Mr Eagle thinks it’s acceptable to swear at and berate those he does not deem to be of his level. I am shocked someone in the public eye would treat someone as abhorrently as he treats someone who’s just trying to help him. I hope those in electorate meet him and get the opportunity to see what kind of man he is. TL;DR if you work in the service industry watch out for Paul Eagle.

Rant concluded.

Another:

Before he was an MP my old boss, an Island Bay resident, made a submission in some Island Bay cycleway project that was negative about the council’s handling of it. Eagle personally rang him up one evening to have a big angry rant at him about it. Classy dude.

And another:

I’ve witnessed him tearing into an elderly lady at a housing meeting, after she’d asked a very reasonable question. He was incredibly rude and patronising to her.

This was picked by Henry Cooke at Stuff and Labour MP Paul Eagle apologises for profane ‘misunderstanding’

Labour MP Paul Eagle has apologised for an incident that saw a Wellingtonian call him an “entitled douchebag.”

Eagle says the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and that he was swearing at people blocking his way into his office – not someone on the phone.

When reached by Stuff, Eagle said the event was a misunderstanding, but offered his apologies.

Eagle said he was talking to a panel-beater on Friday afternoon about getting his car fixed and having a polite but robust discussion about whether or not a separate piece of damage could be fixed at the same time.

Whilst on the phone he was trying to get into his electorate office in Newtown, Wellington, and found his way blocked by some “guys give me lip outside.”

“We’ve got a diverse community in Newtown and sometimes this happens. People are not shy to give you their honest feedback about things,” Eagle said.

“I was swearing at them, they were swearing at me.”

Once Eagle was in the office he said he realised he had been hung up on and was confused. Later his insurance company rung to suggest he try a different panel beater.

“It makes total sense, because now I understand why when I went back to the call it was dead. Within minutes the insurance company rang me,” Eagle said.

“I’d like to formally apologise for any misunderstanding. And I certainly don’t want her feeling any ill will.”

Eagle said he was keen to go back to the panel beater and apologise in person.

A weird explanation – surely that’s too weird to have been made up.

 

“Nationalise all broadcast media”

There is a lot of angst being expressed over news coverage during the week at The Standard: The manufacturing of a narrative

They are complaining about the excess of coverage of stories they don’t think are important, and a lack of coverage of stories they think are important. The media are the immediate scapegoats, but National and big business and world conspiracies also feature in the list of culprits.

Ironically with a post and comments that try to play down Clare Curran’s indiscretions in trying to promote her policies for a publicly funded broadcast television alternative, these claims and suggestions propose that media is fully controlled by the state.

Unicus:

Of course the Government can and must act to protect our country from what is a rampant corporate propaganda machine . It is not enough to simply express disgust about this calculated and co ordinated attempt to bring down the legitimately elected government of our country Although Curren is not the individual to do the job RNZ and Television NZ must be re structured imediately .

Ed:

The media are paid puppets for international finance.
The government will control the narrative if it takes control of the airwaves from private corporate interests.
The airwaves are the commons.
They should be returned to the 99%.

solkta:

Yes, the government should immediately nationalise all broadcast media; along with all law firms, insurance companies and banks.

One of the primary and most important functions of media in a democracy is to hold the government to account. This would take an important check on power away.

I’m not sure that they will be so keen on the government controlling the narrative by taking control of the airwaves when National takes over the government again.

And on the right wing conspiracy – Robert Guyton:

No, Baba: ” A narrative is building being built of incompetence and dishonesty around this government that will be very difficult to shake”.
The perception is being created, purposefully, in order to destroy the Labour-led Government – who’s doing this? You know full well, ol’ mortar’n’pestle witch!

Babayaga:

The narrative is being self inflicted. It really is that simple.

Robert Guyton:

“Self -inflicted”?
Bullsh*t!
Inflicted by the Right Wing machine.
Baba – you’re full of it!

John Drinnan:

So are you saying that most journalists in the country are corrupt and promoting a story that they know is untrue – all to meet the demands of a cruel lying media That famous right wing Gordon Campbell? For goodness sake?

I’m not sure why that last sentence has a question mark.

Regional fuel tax beyond Auckland?

The legislation enabling a fuel tax in Auckland to help finance transport infrastructure improvements may go further – as far as right around the country. But Transport Minister Phil Twyford says that that can’t happen during the current term of government.

RNZ: Fuel tax possible around the country – National Party

Legislation introduced this week would allow a tax to be imposed anywhere in the country if a regional council makes the case.

National’s transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross said Labour campaigned on a fuel tax for Auckland – nowhere else.

The “big surprise”, he said, was that a regional fuel tax would be possible around the country.

“The government needs to be upfront with the rest of New Zealand and tell them that in just a few short years they’re going to be seeing fuel tax in their regions as well.

“It’s another opportunity for the Labour government to tax motorists more.”

But the Transport Minister is assuring motorists no-one outside of Auckland will be hit with a regional fuel tax this term of government.

The legislation prevented regional councils outside of Auckland from seeking a fuel tax until 2021, Phil Twyford said.

“In the future councils may want to take part of it but we’ve been clear publicly and directly to councils that this government will not be considering any other proposals for fuel taxes, other than Auckland’s, in our first term of government.”

Mr Twyford said he had already personally given that message to the mayors of Christchurch and Hamilton.

In its election tax policy Labour specifically talks about a tax only for Auckland, and said Labour had “no plans for any other regional fuel taxes”.

It seems that Labour does have plans for allowing higher fuel tax in other regions, eventually.

Labour have also said they won’t introduce any taxes recommend by the Tax Working Group this term, but they would campaign on what they wanted for the 2020 election. It is possible they will introduce new tax legislation ready to be implement next term – like the regional fuel tax legislation.

Tax could be a big issue in the next election.

I’m sure someone will keep track of all the tax guns loaded, ready to fire should Labour win a second term.

Have your say on the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill

20 year old should front up

One 20 year old man has caused substantial damage after alleged sexual assaults at a party during a Young Labour summer camp last month.

I think he should front up and identify himself, to remove suspicion from anyone else (particularly the other young males who attended the camp). As he is facing a police investigation and possible charges he shouldn’t have to admit anything, but he should out himself.

Jacinda Ardern accepts that something serious occurred:

“The environment was not a safe one and that’s something we have to fix.

“It shouldn’t have happened, we should absolutely have made sure those people were looked after and that hasn’t happened.”

From a statement from Labour General Secretary Andrew Kirton indicates no party denial that something serious happened:

“We are extremely disappointed that an incident like this happened at a Labour event and we are working to make sure those involved receive any support they need. We are deeply sorry for the distress that’s been caused. It shouldn’t have happened.

“The morning after an evening in which we understand several young people had consumed alcohol, Young Labour was alerted to complaints in relation to the behaviour of a 20-year-old man.

“I have subsequently banned the perpetrator from any future Labour Party events.”

The actions of the 20 year old have caused problems for many.

Obviously the claimed four victims will be have been affected, at least one (reported to be male) to the extent that they prompted Labour (Megan Woods) to do something about it, and they have now complained to the police, who are investigating.

Others impacted by their actions or by association:

  • Young Labour, who have had all events suspended by the Labour Party.
  • The camp organiser (who went to bed early, before the alleged offences occurred).
  • The Labour Party, in particular secretary Andrew Kirton who has admitted not responding to the allegations adequately, and also president Nigel Haworth who was involved in the inadequate action.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who, if as claimed she only found out when blind sided at a media conference on Monday, has been seriously embarrassed by the offending at the camp (which she had attended) and by the poor handling of the aftermath.
  • Cabinet Minister Megan Woods who initiated action when approached by someone on Facebook – she should be credited for acting immediately, but has been criticised for not informing Ardern.
  • New Labour MP Liz Craig, who was at the camp but was asleep when the alleged offences occurred (however she was present when alcohol was being consumed).
  • The 50 or so attendees at the camp.

Those who attended the camp other than the alleged victims will also have been impacted. I’m sure they have had to explain their involvement in the camp, and the partying, and if under age the alcohol consumption (and possibly drugs).

NZ Herald:

Kirton told the Herald that Labour had not sought the consent of minors to supply them alcohol because it had not been expected that they would be drinking alcohol.

Under the law it is unlawful to supply anyone aged under 18 with alcohol without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Kirton said such consent was not sought “because the intention was no one under 18 would participate in that.”

According to witnesses who spoke to Newsroom, there was a large array of alcohol available at the Saturday night party including rum, vodka, cider and a large array of RTDs. The witness saw many people drinking, including a 15-year-old.

This will affect any Labour events in the future.

But the biggest and immediate issue is the alleged sexual assaults.

Any of the males who attended the camp will be under suspicion. Most won’t be 20 years old, but they shouldn’t have to wear signs around their necks saying “Yes I was at the camp but no I am not 20!”

Andrew Kirton:

Kirton says the 20-year-old alleged to have groped the four teenagers at the event was “deeply embarrassed” when confronted about it the next day.

“He was spoken to the morning after and my understanding is he was deeply embarrassed and they got him out straight away.

“My understanding from the conversation relayed back to me was that he recognised he had drunk too much and that he was embarrassed by what happened.”

Recognising that he had drunk too much is not the issue. The allegations of multiple sexual groping are the problem here, and alcohol consumption is no excuse for that. Most people who drink alcohol don’t act as alleged he did. There is only one alleged offender.

That person should identify themselves so that no one else involved is under suspicion.

This shouldn’t impact on the victims, who won’t be identified any more than they are now.

The 20 year old, if he did offend, has a legal right to not admit anything, but he could save the victims a lot ongoing attention and grief by fronting up and accepting responsibility and admitting what he did. This would mean the victims would not have to go through the investigation processes and possibly court processes.

The 20 year old has caused many problems and has done a lot of damage, to the victims if the allegations are true, to Young Labour and to Labour.

He could mitigate some of that damage by fronting up. This would also mitigate the end result of any legal repercussions.

If he remains silent and anonymous the damage will continue – in particular for the victims and for innocent males who also attended the camp.

 

Labour front up over summer camp allegations

After copping a lot pf criticism over the last two days Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern and party president Nigel Haworth fronted up at a media conference today.

I think they did a good job of accepting responsibility and detailing what they would do to address the problems coming out of their one of mishandling the sexual assault allegations, and what they would do to try to minimise the chances of anything like it happening again.

They had little choice but to do this, to try to stem the damage and restore some credibility.

They have put a hold on any Young Labour events.

Interesting to see Ardern and Haworth fronting up on it today. Until now party secretary Andrew Kirton had copped most of the media attention on the issue.

RNZ: ‘We failed in our duty of care’ – Labour leadership

The Labour’s Party leadership has apologised “deeply” to the victims of sexual assault at a Young Labour summer camp, their parents and the other young people there.

At a media stand-up held this afternoon, Leader Jacinda Ardern and party president Nigel Haworth unveiled a number of measures the party was taking, two days after it emerged four 16-year-olds were sexually harassed or assaulted by a 20-year-old at a Young Labour camp.

“We understand we failed in our duty of care during the event,” said Mr Haworth. “We have failed in our duty of care in terms of support we’ve offered since then, we are very, very distressed about this.”

He wanted to “apologise deeply” to the four young people who have been so “grievously treated”, to their families and the other young people at the event.

Changes will be made to way Labour events are held, including having a “senior member of the party” at all Young Labour events, once they are resumed.

No heads would roll as a result of the handling of the Waihi incident, said Mr Haworth, including his own and that of general secretary Andrew Kirton.

I don’t see any need for resignations at this stage. Everyone can make mistakes, especially in politics and political management – and Labour and it’s officials have major mistakes here. They should learn from them. If not and mistakes like this keep happening then jobs will be in jeopardy.

Ms Ardern did not want to make detailed comments about what happened while investigations were underway. But she did confirm a Labour MP was present “generally” at the camp.

“Liz Craig was there, she had an early flight the next day so was in bed at the time this all occurred.

“I cannot say when she went to bed but she’s been very clear about the fact she wasn’t present when the sexual abuse took place”, said Ms Ardern.

She was present during some of the drinking though – there are photos of this circulating.

However she is not likely to have been responsible for organising or supervising.

She also backed Mr Kirton saying while the assaults had been handled “very, very badly” by the party, he had acknowledged there were failings.

“He is now very much a part of the party’s work to fixing the issues and the failings that we recognise.”

In statement posted to Facebook, Ms Craig said she was at the Young Labour Summer Camp at Waihi as a guest speaker on oral health issues.

“I overnighted at the camp as I was unable to get same day flights and left early the following morning.”

She attended a quiz event and went to bed early once that had finished, she said.

“While alcohol was present, I understood the organising committee had put in place measures to ensure those under the age of 18 were not drinking, and that organising committee members had been designated to oversee the evening’s events.

“I was dismayed to hear of events being raised in the media this week, as I was unaware until then that anything of this nature had occurred.”

If she left early on the Sunday morning she may have missed the eviction frrom the camp of the offender.

Senior barrister Maria Berryman has been brought in to look at how the party deals with harassment and abuse at other Labour party events.

Labour also confirmed today it had suspended all events held by its youth wing as it reviewed the sexual assault claims, one of which was now being investigated by police.

Mr Haworth said when they were reinstated they will be run by the party and not Young Labour officials. They will also be alcohol-free and a senior member of the party will be present.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Ms Ardern said she was not aware of any previous instances at events she had attended as an MP and as a member of Young Labour.

“[However], I cannot, hand on heart, rule out that this hasn’t happened before.”

Thias is far from over for Labour, but they took a big step in the right direction today.

Police statement – Labour summer camp

Police are now investigating the allegations of sexual assault at the Labour summer camp:


Investigation commences into allegations about Young Labour summer camp

A police investigation has commenced into allegations regarding a Young Labour summer camp at Waihi in February.

The first step will be to assess information available to police to determine what is required from an investigation perspective.

The investigation will be overseen by Detective Superintendent Chris Page.

We continue to encourage anyone with information they wish to discuss with police, or matters they wish to report, to contact us.

Our priority is to ensure that anyone who wishes to speak with us can feel comfortable in doing so, and to ensure that appropriate support services are available.

We will not be publicly confirming any matters regarding those who may approach police, or complaints that may be received, to ensure that individuals can feel confident in speaking to us. We will also not discuss specific investigative steps which may be undertaken, or put a timeframe on the investigation.

Further information on NZ Police’s approach to investigating sexual assault can be found here: http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/sexual-assault