Paula Bennett: Questions raised over Parliament assault claims

Author
Newstalk ZB ,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 5:40PM
Paula Bennett has criticised Trevor Mallard's handling of the sexual assault allegations at Parliament. (Photo / NZ Herald)

There is disbelief in the Beehive that there could've potentially been a sexual predator walking among them, and how the case has been handled. 

A report into bullying and harassment in Parliament has uncovered serious sexual assault allegations within the halls of power.

House Speaker Trevor Mallard has confirmed a parliamentary staffer has stood down this afternoon as an investigation gets underway.

It's unclear whether a formal complaint has been made with Police.

National's deputy leader, Paula Bennett told Heather du Plessis-Allan potentially a lot of harm's been caused in the last few weeks that there was an alleged rapist at the building. 

"Of course, I'm pleased that staff are safe, that's actually what I care about the most, but I can't quite believe how we got to this place."

She says that advocates for the victims uncovered by Debbie Francis' investigation to remained anonymous, but she says Police can investigate without the victims names. 

"That might be hard to get a prosecution, but there are all different levels of investigation."

The fact that there was a pattern of behaviour meant that Mallard should have gone to the Police, Bennett says, which would have been a "really good start". 

She says that there are staffers who feel unsafe, with women walking in pairs and staffers being told not to show up to work. 

"A Speaker has gone out and called this rape. I don't even know if this is - it it's not, then that's an issue in itself for how much harm it's caused and distress. And if it is, I worry about what that means for prosecution and future practice." 

Bennett says that neither her nor her staff had ever heard of these claims, and that heightened the concerns. 

She believes that Mallard could have done this without re-traumatising the victims. 

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