Barry Soper: Where's the PM's 'transparency' on Labour Party sex scandal?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 7 August 2019, 9:04AM

COMMENT:

Getting an answer out of Jacinda Ardern over the latest sex scandal to hit the Labour Party is like getting blood out of a stone.

The Prime Minister does what many leaders have done over the years: hide behind "process." If they don't want to front up, they appoint someone to look into something that's already been looked into.

And that's the case with the latest rumble.

A group of Labour women have complained about the actions of a worker, who if you listen to Ardern isn't really a worker in the true sense of the word, because he doesn't work for Parliament's closed shop employer Parliamentary Service - one of the few government departments that you can't search through the Official Information Act.

He works for the Labour Party even though the money to pay him comes from the taxpayer. So Ardern says it's not an employment matter, it's a matter for the party because the complaints have been made about actions outside the workplace. How that works is a little difficult to fathom.

And of course they too are a law unto themselves. Labour Party president Nigel Haworth brushed off reporters on his way into the Labour caucus yesterday saying he was running late (even though he was 10 minutes early).

Ardern fronted up, but in her inimitable way, talked a lot but said little.

Talking to one of the women who complained about the man's behaviour, who was apparently exonerated in an internal party inquiry which is now subject to the review "process," she felt helpless. It was a power imbalance, the party takes the side of the accused, she insists, leaving those who complained feeling powerless.

There's 12 of them and when they complained they claim they were told the accused's too valuable and their hands were tied.

One of them was, they claim, hospitalised with mental health issues, two of them still work at Parliament and six of them were until recently Labour Party members, four have since quit.

That's just part of their side of the story. To get Labour's is impossible. They're not talking because a process is underway, we're told.

This from a party who promised transparency like we've never seen before. From a party that's adamant it won't countenance bullying, let alone sexual harassment.

It's the holier than thou attitude that has left these women - who believed they would have been taken seriously - feeling bereft, unsupported and frightened.

The certainly don't feel their wellbeing means much in the Beehive.

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