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More on Labour’s problem – Part IV: ‘Safe place’ push goes very awry

11/09/2019

Claire Trevett at the NZ Herald – ‘Safe place’ push goes very awry

Trevett has some comments on Labour’s problem.

Rarely has a party official been put on notice as publicly and definitively as Labour Party president Nigel Haworth was by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

At the centre of Ardern’s anger is one big question: Did Haworth mislead Ardern when she was given an assurance that there was nothing of a sexual nature among the multiple complaints against a staffer?

It is little wonder she suspects she may have been misled.

Come on,‘ suspects’, ‘may have been misled‘ – I call this BS. This issue has been discussed for some weeks in NZ media, just what bubble does Ardern exist in. I do not believe this.

Indeed, given Paula Bennett’s comments in early August re this, I do not think Ardern was unaware. Such a stance by Ardern is not tenable. In fact, if she truly did not know, then she really is a total incompetent and should not be PM. Yet the media still seems in the main to giv her a free pass. Why?

The Spinoff has published a detailed outline of a woman’s claims of a sexual assault in early 2018 by the staffer, and her frustration at the way it was dealt with by the party.

The party volunteer insisted she had told Haworth and then a panel of Labour officials reviewing complaints against the staffer about that alleged sexual assault.

She also gave The Spinoff some evidence of that in the form of emails and texts. She did not hear back until after the party cleared the staffer and allowed him to stay on.

So Labour was given details, but in effect took no notice and in fact denies they were told.

Trevett goes on

The greatest confusion is about what Haworth knew and when. There is no longer any room for ambiguity on this, yet in his response to The Spinoff that is just what he delivered.

He said none of the complaints investigated related to sexual assault. He said the head of the review had made it clear to complainants the party was not the appropriate body to handle claims of a sexual nature, which was best left to the police.

Of course, that does not mean Labour was not told of a sexual assault, it just didn’t investigate it. Nor did it address the woman’s claim she had told Haworth, at a meeting before that review, about a sexual assault.

It also raised a question that if no sexual assault complaint was made, why did the party need to say it could not investigate such complaints?

But Haworth was refusing to comment last night.

Haworth is up to his neck in this. However, the idea that Ardern was not told, especially after the issues with the Labour Youth Camp is incomprehensible.

Now any chance Ardern had of staying out of it has gone.

Given that it is believed the perpetrator worked in her office and various statements she has made in the past on matters like this, I do not see that Ardern would ever have been able to stay out of this. As Harry Truman’s famous desk plaque said ‘ the buck stops here’ . Ardern is the PM and Leader of the NZ Labour Party, this alleged perpetrator worked in the PM’s Office. Therefore the buck stops with her, not with Haworth or an internal review. It stops with Ardern.

So she’s has been left to front on a confused and confusing morass of partial details and counter-claims — a he-says, she-says situation. She also has hard decisions to make about a party president and a staffer.

Ardern is now waiting and hoping a QC’s report will provide clarity before casting final judgment, but her public airing of her frustration with Haworth is an indication of which way she thinks things will go.

Ardern is hoping for some camouflage and is hoping the matter will be taken out of her hands.

Trevett goes on to note:

There was one matter on which Ardern and Haworth agreed — it was that Labour was not the right agency to investigate a sexual assault allegation but that does not mean it can simply ignore it when that allegation lands on its doorstep.

What will also concern Ardern is the woman did not feel the party had given her the support she needed.

A review of Labour’s handling of sexually inappropriate behaviour at a Young Labour summer camp in 2018 has now spiralled into a second case of mishandling by the party, so bad Ardern herself has condemned it as disappointing and frustrating.

Ardern can point fingers all she likes, but she is the Party Leader.

After all, those who had spoken out about the staffer did so after Labour encouraged them to come forward with any other instances of inappropriate behaviour.

Yet, in that case every extra piece of information has come into the public eye because complainants got frustrated with Labour and turned to the media instead.

Making Labour a “safe” place had gone very awry

Sorry, Ms Trevett, how can you effectively give Ardern a pass on this.

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