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Rush to Judgment redux

Written By: - Date published: 7:12 am, December 20th, 2019 - 151 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, labour, national, paula bennett, same old national, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Three months ago I posted this post and wondered if the media had rushed to judgment in relation to the allegation of sexual assault made against a Wellington based Labour Party staffer.

I expressed confidence in the statement by Council member Simon Mitchell that he was not told about the allegations.  He is an experienced lawyer.  When it comes to a situation like this I did not expect him to make a mistake.

The Labour Party retained Maria Dew to conduct a review of what has happened and her executive summary has been released.  Radio New Zealand has this summary:

The inquiry into the allegations of sexual assault made by one Labour member against another has cast major doubts over the accuracy of the chief complainant’s story.

It found “insufficient evidence” to back up the most serious allegations and ruled critical elements of the complainant’s version of events were incorrect.

It also said the complainant had since admitted providing “misleading information” to the investigation.

Further:

There were many discrepancies between what the complainants were saying publicly and what party officials said happened.

One of the most striking was a copy of an email the woman said she sent to party officials on a panel set up to hear the claims.

A copy of an email with attachments, dated March 2019, was given to media to show officials had been emailed details of the complaints, and so had been formally notified.

The officials involved still maintain they were never told about claims of a sexual nature.

One of them, Simon Mitchell, went as far as getting his computer forensically examined to prove he had never received that June email.

The report stated, on the balance of probabilities, “the emails Ms 1 sent to the Party on 9 March 2019, to both Mr Simon Mitchell and Ms Lacy, did not contain any attached document detailing her allegation of sexual assault by the respondent”.

The report noted that the complainant and the Staffer had been in a relationship.  

The Staffer has acknowledged that he had misbehaved and has lost his job.

I hope they are both OK.  My legal experience suggests that these situations can be very complex and the reality can be way more nuanced than what people think.  And a post event forensic analysis can conclude that an honestly held opinion about a past event is not a factually correct one.

The process has been exhaustive.

Twenty two people were interviewed.  From the report:

The complainants have each had an opportunity to review all the interview statements taken, so far as they relate to their allegations. The respondent provided his reply to all interview statements taken. The parties were also provided with all documents received by the investigation and had the opportunity to review and comment on those documents. Finally, they have each had the opportunity to review and comment on a draft of the full Report before it was finalised. 

It seems that the process is still bruising for some of the participants.  But the trouble was once the complaint became public there had to be a public response.

Serious questions should be asked about Paula Bennett’s behaviour.  And why she rushed to judgment and politicised this for political gain.  It seems clear that she milked this for all it was worth and did not care about the complainants.  They were collateral damage.

She kept asking about why Labour did not have a “victim led response”. With the benefit of hindsight hers was anything but.

Using the protection of Parliamentary privilege she smeared the Prime Minister, as well as senior staffers in her office, and basically went to town on them.  Serious questions need to be asked, like did she actually talk to any of the complainants and what was she actually told.

And will she apologise.

It would be good for the National opposition to leave behind Dirty Politics and get on with releasing their discussion documents and having policy debates.  This trashing individuals for political advantage is not only tedious, but it is damaging for all involved and ultimately it damages the political process.

151 comments on “Rush to Judgment redux”

  1. Rapunzel 1

    I would just like to wish Nigel Haworth a Merry Xmas & a great New Year – he was the "Andrew Little" of this mess with his action to stem the way Bennett and others attempted to smear the govt and the PM in particular. No one put the welfare at more risk than she did and no one wishes them any harm or stress and it would never have been under public view with out Bennett pushing and pushing for that to happen

    • anker 1.1

      Yes I would like to wish Nigel Haworth a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year as well

    • Anne 1.2

      And what's more Rapunzel, he was a good president who put his life into the Labour Party. He did not deserve such an humiliating departure but with the conditions as they were a few months back – thanks to the rush to judgement by Paula Bennett and the likes of Newshub etc. – he had no choice but to go.

      I understand he is a deeply hurt man – who wouldn’t have been – but it is not in his nature to complain. I also know Claire Szabo visited Nigel before putting her hat in the ring. I'm sure it would have given him comfort to know someone of her calibre would take his place.

      These narcissistic politicans who inhabit the National Party don't give a dam about the damage they cause and the lives they destroy in their quest for power and control. The sad part is these types have been around the NZ political stage for decades and not always did they operate through the National Party.  But that's another story waiting in the wings for its moment on the stage. 

      • Rapunzel 1.2.1

        I always felt he was a good man, in this case his "hurt, discomfortm & personal injury", and I believe that there is some through no fault of his own is directly due to Bennett, Tova O'Brien & the Spinoff – it seems they are comfortable with that I hope they get the sort of Xmas they deserve and that his is far better than that. Also glad that the new president visited him during recent times I think that shows that the people who are worth it know exactly what sort of ugly game the Opposition plays

      • Ad 1.2.2

        It was Ardern who publicly threw him under her leadership bus, not the National Party.

        • Anne 1.2.2.1

          That's your trademark "negative" interpretation of the sequence of events.

          I don't know exactly what happened – nor do I want to – but I am quite sure the two of them had a no-holds-barred discussion on what needed to be done at that moment and came to a mutual agreement. Don't blame either of them. They had to take into consideration the well-being of the Party as a whole and they did. 

          • A 1.2.2.1.1

            Ardern's comments to the media about her confidence on Haworth on September 9th and 10th are a matter of public record, and it was of course the night of the 10th that he resigned to her.

            Ardern is only good when dealing with the most obvious crises. 

            After that she just goes with the flow, damn Haworth's loyalty over decades.

            • weka 1.2.2.1.1.1

              I would have thought one's party president needing to resign was a most obvious crisis.

              From the point of view of emotional and social intelligence in responding to the internal issues Labour had/have, she did far better than I would have expected from a PM. She's also got the capacity for ruthless, and in that light it seems a fair trade even if it was unfair on Haworth (let's remember the panel did fuck things up).

              • Ad

                Ardern doesn't come out any better on this. "Emotional intelligence" is code for here own orchestrated "trial by media". All involved in the investigation other than Ardern have walked or been chucked out. 

                Ardern generated reviews of reviews until there were enough cracks to for the media to exploit . Ardern turned on her own rather than defend against Bennett.

                There's no justice in that, and in fact just redoubled the previous injustices such as they were.

                • weka

                  You're missing my point Ad. I'm not talking about Ardern's wellbeing, I'm talking about things like whether Labour have changed or not. I think they have. Not enough, but not negligibly either.

                  You're focus will of course be on the politics of Labour and government. Mines is somewhere else entirely.

                  Regarding justice, I guess my expectations are lower than yours.

                  ""Emotional intelligence" is code for here own orchestrated "trial by media". 

                  I used the term and I'll tell you that's not what I meant. Unless you are saying that Ardern's emotional intelligence is all a put on, in which case I would disagree.

                  • Ad

                    We won't be able to tell whether Labour Party behaviors have changed or not. Even if they did, whether they would be attributable to anything here.

                    You knew what you meant by "emotional intelligence" when you used the term "ruthless" about Ardern's behavior.

                    This must be the very last time Ardern gets to stand as judge, jury and executioner-by-media. There can be no justice without just process, and Ardern made it worse.

                    • weka

                      you think someone can't be emotionally intelligent and politically ruthless at the same time? That basically says that we can't have emotionally intelligent PMs.

                      Labour have already changed, just not in the ways you want.

                      "This must be the very last time Ardern gets to stand as judge, jury and executioner-by-media. There can be no justice without just process, and Ardern made it worse."

                      How did she make it worse? If a young Labour volunteer in five years time says to a senior Labour person 'I'm being sexually harassed by someone in a position of power within Labour', are you saying that Labour will handle it worse then than they did this year?

        • Kay Josephs 1.2.2.2

          What a load of b/s a good man lost his job because of fake b/s and dirty politics ..the nats cannt do anything else but that What a disgraceful time in NZ politics it cannt sink much lower The nats never cleaned their own sewer up after JLR.they just swept everything under the carpet as they regularly do at our tax payers expense.

           

    • Lettuce 1.3

      What happened to Nigel Haworth  was very unjust, especially considering his National Party opposite Peter Goodfellow is a nasty scumbag with a domestic violence conviction to his name:

      http://www.kiwisfirst.com/goodfella-judges/

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    Bennett is irrelevant unless she intervenes again on behalf of the complainants.  They ought to get better representation than her.  The QC's failure to report on the truth or falsity of the testimony of complainant #1, particularly the file attachment to her email to Labour that the Spinoff journos reported that they saw, suggests she had no interest in the truth and creates the impression that she was engaged to sweep the issue under the carpet for Labour.

    Post-truth politics, I guess.  Expecting credibility just makes me feel old-fashioned.  Ah well.  At least young folk will learn that you become a Labour volunteer at your peril, so the cloud has a silver lining…

    • I feel love 2.1

      I doubt a QC swept anything under the carpet for Labour. 

    • … suggests she had no interest in the truth …

      Seriously? Maybe you should drink less coffee or something.

      … the file attachment to her email to Labour that the Spinoff journos reported that they saw…

      1. A QC spent a lot of time investigating that question, unlike you who's read an article about it on the Spinoff, and put the results of that investigation into a report sent to all parties.  If the report contained factual errors, the complainants would know it and so would the Spinoff's journalists.

      2. An email is just a text file – If I had your email address I could easily print out and show people an email with attachment that I sent you, despite never having sent you an email with attachment (not suggesting that's what's happened in this case, just pointing out that someone saying they've seen an email isn't proof of anything). It's also easily possible to send an email without the attachment you were supposed to attach to it – happens all the time.

      3. There are two alternatives here: either multiple people in positions requiring a high degree of integrity have lied about something, or the complainant's memory of events isn't 100% accurate.  Occam's razor has something to say about which of those alternatives is more likely, but for some reason you're going with the less-likely one.

      • pat 2.2.1

        not to mention it was addressed in the summary

        "The complainant had given media a screenshot of an email and an attached document which she said she had sent to the Labour Party outlining her complaints of sexual assault.

        Ms Dew concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that document was not attached.

        The report also rejected the complainant's claim that she had outlined her complaint in person to Labour's investigation panel, saying that was "improbable" when assessed against the weight of other witness evidence."

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/405772/sexual-assault-allegations-against-ex-labour-staffer-not-established

      • Dennis Frank 2.2.2

        Well, let's see if the Spinoff resiles or not.  Their reputation as investigative journalists may hinge on it.  I doubt that they would have told us about verifying the file attachment if they hadn't actually verified it.

        As regards blind faith in the judiciary, and QCs, consider me a sceptic.  I learnt from the Erebus saga.  Change the computer program to direct the plane to fly into the mountain & kill 257 kiwis.  No problem, said our judicial system, we won't even charge you with the crime.  For slow learners, Cave Creek repeated the lesson.

    • anker 2.3

      Bennett has been grand standing on twitter, saying she is not going to give up on the sexual assault in Labour etc etc.  Her twitter feed is mostly full of people very assertively calling her out over her role in this, telling her she needs to resign.  

      So don't be surprized if Bennett doesn't let it go………………..

      • ianmac 2.3.1

        Bennett must be mad to continue. But I guess she can, like Dennis Frank, continue to deny the evidence knowing that neither Labour nor the QC can produce further evidence to refute the Bennett position.  (Keep in mind the silence from Labour when National had their assault problems.)

        • Dennis Frank 2.3.1.1

          I'm not denying any evidence.  Merely suggesting that the QC failed to provide it.  If you believe she did, why not prove it?

          • ianmac 2.3.1.1.1

            Exactly my point. Neither the QC or the Labour Party can "prove it" because for the sake of the complainants the published report was the last word on the subject.

          • Rapunzel 2.3.1.1.2

            What the QC did was investigate and report her findings which was the allegations were not proven – that is the allegations of the complainant, not the spuriously termed innuendo as depicted by Bennett and some media they should never have even been given "air" in the way they were. She also did not run over the complainant, that Bennett & co had already chucked under the bus, and was not asked to, by giving any more detail than was necessary to explain her findings.

    • Anne 2.4

       The QC's failure to report on the truth or falsity of the testimony of complainant #1, particularly the file attachment to her email to Labour that the Spinoff journos reported that they saw, suggests she had no interest in the truth and creates the impression that she was engaged to sweep the issue under the carpet for Labour.

      That is poppycock Dennis Frank.

      You can be sure she reported exactly what she discovered. But, in the interest of protecting the young person /young persons involved, it will never be made public.  And that is the right thing to do. It was clearly far more complex and nuanced than was originally known and it is not the aim of the Labour Party – especially under an empathetic PM like the one we currently have – to destroy the reputations of the complainants in particular who were caught up in it all.

      It was a sad chain of events made worse by opponents of Labour who used it as a stick to publicly beat them with. That is the real story.

  3. anker 3

    Reading the summary it seems Maria Dew felt there was no basis to most of the complaints, other than the guy making three sexist comments and being aggressive.  This was on 5 occasions over 13 months. I imagine that in politics, people do get aggressive at times.  That of course doesn't justify being aggressive or sexist of course.

    To me the whole thing has never really added up  The complainant either didn't tell the full story e.g. she was in a relationship with they guy, to the Spinoff, or they chose not to include it in their story.The complainants texts and fb messaging around the time of the event seem not to be in keeping with a sexual assault having occurred.  Critical details of the night of the event were incorrect by the complainant.   

    I don't think it is that credible that she told the panel she was sexually assaulted.  Labour had just had the experience of the summer camp assault and at least one of three (particularly the lawyer) would have taken notice of that.  The complainant has also admitted she mis-lead the panel.  

    The complainants complained that they didn't have enough time before the report was released.  But it now appears they were given a draft to comment on.  So they were given a reasonable indication of what would be in the report.  

     I think the Sydney Morning Herald called it the best. I will link and re-post if I can.

    • Dennis Frank 3.1

      There were five complainants, so why ignore the other four?  Also, the issue of mental health has been raised.  Victims tend to suffer, and suffering gets in the way of clarity.  Unsurprising if they get vague on details.

      They really need a competent impartial victims advocate if they want to take the issue further.  I accept that the QC can only opine on the basis of established fact, but I do question how much effort went into establishing the facts.

      • ianmac 3.1.1

        I accept that the QC can only opine on the basis of established fact, but I do question how much effort went into establishing the facts.

        You cannot be serious Dennis.

      • anker 3.1.2

        Dennis all five complainants were interviewed.  The complainant who alleged sexual assault didn't take the other four with her to the panel where she alleges she told Haworth et al about the assault.  She appears to have gone on her own.  So it is her word against three others.  So three witness say they weren't told.  One says they were.

        What would have been in it for Haworth et el to ignore the sexual assault clam?  And we are talking about one on the panel who is a well respected lawyer?  Who then went to the bother of having his computer forensically tested proving that he didn't receive the attachment.  They had already had the experience of the Labour summer camp, so its just not credible that three such people would have received the attachment and then ignored the claimant telling them she had been sexually assaulted.

        Human nature means people have alls sorts of motivations and we will never entirely be sure of what they are for these claimants.  And of course we will never know 100 % sure what the full truth of the matter is.  The claims have been extremely well investigated.  This includes Dew looking through 28,000 text messages between the complainants and the guy.  I understand now why the young woman didn't take this to the police.  I don't believe given the evidence that has emerged they would have pressed charges.  Now all that is left for these young people is to get the help they need to heal and move on with their lives.  Same for the man who was the alleged perpetrator.  The only other option for the young people is to go to the police.  As someone else said on another thread the police are better equipped to deal with these things.  I found them to be exceptional  many years ago when I experienced an attempted sexual assault.  And more recently when I phoned them because the offender was never caught and I wondered if it was the guy who raped a young woman at a quarry as there were similarities to my case.  They couldn't have been better and I was given victim support.

        [in the interests of clarity this is what the report said re the messages,

        “The investigation has also reviewed extensive documentation produced by the parties, including more than 28,000 Facebook messenger and text communications between the complainants, respondent and others during 2017 and 2018,”

        – weka]

        • Dennis Frank 3.1.2.1

          Fair enough.  "28,000 text messages"  No kidding???  A substantial can of worms, suggesting we ought to acknowledge the diligence of the QC, at least.

          • anker 3.1.2.1.1

            Dew also said because of the messages from the complainant both before and after the alleged assault, that said messages didn't support the claim of the complainant.  I am not quoting here.

             

            Seriously Dennis give some thought to reading the summary.  Not because of commenting here.  People are free to do that whatever.  But because it is very interesting and thorough.  It also turns out the complainants were given a draft to read over and comment on before the findings were published.  So all this stuff about needing more time……..well. ………

            Sometimes I can't help but wonder if this wasn't a hit job on Labour.  But I don't know that of course and it could be incorrect.  More likely a love affair gone wrong and someone hell bent on making others pay.

        • anker 3.1.2.2

          Thanks Weka.  

        • weka 3.1.2.3

          As micky said in his post,

          My legal experience suggests that these situations can be very complex and the reality can be way more nuanced than what people think.  And a post event forensic analysis can conclude that an honestly held opinion about a past event is not a factually correct one.

          It's also possible that two people (or parties) can hold apparently contradictory beliefs about what happened with both being partially right and wrong.

          In this case, we don't know what happened. For me it's not necessary to know in order to have a political discussion, but how that discussion happens involves choices. I choose to not assume the complainants were intentionally lying (there is no evidence of that).

          I understand now why the young woman didn't take this to the police.  I don't believe given the evidence that has emerged they would have pressed charges.  Now all that is left for these young people is to get the help they need to heal and move on with their lives.  Same for the man who was the alleged perpetrator.  The only other option for the young people is to go to the police.  As someone else said on another thread the police are better equipped to deal with these things. 

          I'm glad you had a better experience with the police. Unfortunately this is not the case for many women, there is a long and very clear history of the police and justice system not dealing with sexual assault complaints well.

          To back up a bit here, there are a number of overlapping issues that needed to be looked at once the complaints had been brought to the attention of Labour.

          1. are there any issue of criminality?
          2. are there any issues of employment law?
          3. are there any issues for parliamentary services?

          4. are there any issues for Labour as an organisation?
          5. are there any issues for Labour in govt?

          I suspect there are others too.

          Each of those has their own complexity, and it's not as simple as saying it's either this aspect or the police. Many situations arise that are serious that don't necessarily mean the police should be involved. Because it might be traumatic for the complainants, or because better justice or redress can be had via other means.

          If the complainants decided to not go to the police, for whatever reason, there are still over avenues to use. The issue for me is what Labour as an organisation (and consequently as government) do in sorting out the various cultural issues they have internally. It's clear they have some, but I don't think this should be seen as Labour bashing, lots of orgs in NZ are like this (or worse).

          That Labour have fronted up this time and done a range of things bodes well. I'm not confident they've sorted out all the internal issues, but I do think they've done some important work on this and will continue to do so.

          We will never know what actually happened, and all the speculation about that detracts from the issues we can, as public, deal with: how a political party runs the various parts of its orgs in relationship to issues of safety, and allegations of abuse.

          • anker 3.1.2.3.1

            There was definitely an alleged criminal act.   If the police don't deal with this, then who should?  Or in this case who should have.  Given the complainant didn't want to go to the police, I think the duty of care for Labour given she met this guy in the context of volunteering for Labour was to ensure she knew she could make a complaint to the police and either supporting her to do so, or ensuring she had support.  And to ensure she had access to counselling services.  Labour also needed to investigate the other complaints of bullying and sexual harassment.   We don't know yet what the internal investigation found about these complaints, but it is most likely that the panel set up to deal with the complaints didn't hear of the serious sexual assault.

            Employment law.  Well the complaint wasn't made to parliamentary services, because although the guy was employed by them, the complainant wasn't.

            The alleged sexual assault happened in the context of a personal relationship in a private home.  I am not sure how employment law or parliamentary services could be involved. its possible as it was being dealt with by the party, that parliamentary services didn't know about the complaint. I am not sure what happens to people who are facing criminal charges, whether their employer stands them down,  but that should happen on a case by case basis depending on the charges.

            Are there any issues for Labour as an organisation?  I am sure there are.  We will find out once the final review is published.

            • weka 3.1.2.3.1.1

              I wasn't focused on the sexual assault complaint in my list. I was focused on the people who came forward and told Labour there were serious multiple problems that Labour needed to address. I can't see how leaving out the sexual assault could be part of Labour's response, although obviously what Labour could do would be different if a criminal investigation was happening.

              At the very least, acknowledgement of the sexual assault complaint and how that would impact on their internal responses, should have been a core part of what Labour did. eg did they know how to engage processes when dealing with someone who is traumatised? Saying that it was police matter and not for Labour ignores the processes that were needed outside of the justice system.

              I guess the difference between our positions on the police is that you maybe believe that there is an appropriate avenue for people to report sexual assault. I don't. I think some people will go to the police and many won't. Because of rape culture. That's on society as a whole, and Labour, as law makers and governance, have a responsibility to get this right. If Labour can't manage this, then there's no hope for them running govt departments that do. Or writing good laws.

              So for me the issue isn't that they didn't go to the police, it's that this whole series of events happened in the context of rape culture, and how Labour handled things given that. I think by and large, given the bullshit from National, and their own internal issues, they did relatively ok.

  4. ianmac 5

    Anyway Micky, thanks for your clarification.

  5. McFlock 6

    If you think that a serious complaint isn't being given proper acknowledgement by your party, I would actually recommend going to mps from another party (knowing what they are when you involve them, of course).

    And in this case, even though Bennett is an abusive ladder-kicking hypocrite her involvement did in fact get this issue thoroughly investigated.

    Even though the allegations weren't demonstrated, the fact is that there were multiple failures in process and the allegations deserved another (this time thorough) look.

    These failures were evident in the lack of record keeping, the lack of centralised communication in the original investigation (including with the complainants), the staffer continuing to work in contact with complainants while being investigated. Given their inabilaty to deal with the Labour youth camp incident at around the same time, this was a systemic failure by Labour to deal properly with internal complaints of misconduct.

    That having been said, with all the messages reviewed a simple resolution to the attachment issue would have been for the complainant to open her email sent messages folder with the QC there – few people have direct control over their email server, as opposed to screenshots. This might have been an oversight, or maybe it was not doable for some reason.

    But on the other hand, I'm always cautious when people argue that behaviour after an alleged  incident indicates whether or not that incident took place. People act weird, and sometimes they just try to pretend or convince themselves it didn't happen, and try to ignore it and carry on "as normal".

    But at least now there's no question that the complaints were solidly investigated.

    • anker 6.1

      McFlook "If you think a serious complaint isn't been given proper acknowledgement by your party, I would recommend going to a MPs of another party"

      Well that would be your perogotive to make that recommendation.  But actually given the evidence points to the most serious complaint not being shared with the party, then its hard to criticise the party for not properly acknowledging something they were told of.  The proper place for the allegation of sexual assault is the police. They will also organise victim support.

      Labour may have failed in how they investigated this complaint, but I will probably wait for the review to come out.

      • McFlock 6.1.1

        The "proper place" is whomever the complainants choose to tell.

        In general, many people have legitimate reasons not to want to report a sexual assault to the police, while still wanting the organisation the assailant works for to address the assailant's behaviour.

        And it wasn't just one complainant, remember? Five felt that Labour hadn't adequately addressed their concerns.

         

        Labout failed in how they investigated these complaints. If the review comes out saying there is nothing they could have done better, then that review will be a whitewash. I've more thoroughly documented investigations into minor student misconduct than these people documented their communication with multiple complainants in the course of an investigation that could have ended up in criminal proceedings (they didn't know where the case would have ended up when they started looking into it – bullying and aggression at the very least can slide into an assault charge).

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          yep. Young woman, making a complaint about bullying and aggression, multiple issues of institutional power differences. Lots of red flags that Labour didn't know what they were doing. Which I'm actually ok with so long as they fronted up afterwards and made it clear they're going to change, which they did (mostly).

        • anker 6.1.1.2

          McFlock of course the complainant is free to talk to whoever they want to about the alleged assault.  

          Yes I understand rape victims not wanting to take their case to the police.

          'And it wasn't just one complainant, five felt that Labour hadn't adequately addressed their concerns" . ……so we need to wait for the report to see how Labour actually did.   Do said complainants now feel Labour has satisfactorily addressed their concerns?  Probably not despite a very thorough independent enquiry, that didn't find in their favour.  

          Sounds like one thing is clear is that Labour didn't document things well and this is a failing.

      • weka 6.1.2

        "The proper place for the allegation of sexual assault is the police"

        No-one is under any obligation to take such an allegation to the police. Women are routinely damaged when they do. I get that people are pissed off by how Labour have been treated here, but that doesn't mean we should sacrifice victims of sexual assault.

        If Labour's side of the story is true, I can still see all sorts of issues with how they handled things. eg why did they meet with the main complainant on her own? Where are the transcripts from that meeting? These are basic things to get right.

        • pat 6.1.2.1

          There may well be transcripts (that cant be released to protect complainants), and did they meet with a complainant on her/ own, would suggest the opportunity to bring support was offered ( would be surprised if it wasnt)…the whole problem with your argument is that you appear to ignore the rights of the accused…there are (at least) two parties that need their rights protected

          • weka 6.1.2.1.1

            I haven't said anything about the accused so not sure where you got that from.

            From memory, there was no-one in the meeting between the main complainant and the panel, whose job it was to take notes. This was acknowledged when the story first broke. They didn't say "we have a transcript we are not releasing because of confidentiality reasons".

            • pat 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Are you seriously suggesting that there was no transcript of an official inquiry?

              And no you havn't said anything about the accused…indeed the rights of the accused have been obvious by their omission…I doubt that would be the case should the roles be reversed

              • McFlock

                If there had been a transcript, then there would be no misunderstanding. Dew would be able to say that the complainant had mentioned a sexual assault, or be able to explicitly state that the complainant had received a copy of the transcript after it was made and had acknowledged and agreed with the contents, even though there was no mention of a sexual assault. Or, indeed, could identify the bit of the transcript where one party might have missed an ambiguous reference open to misinterpretation.

                Heck, in "official" investigations, both parties get duplicate recordings of the interview, for that exact reason: none of this "A claims to have said X, but B claims A said Y" bullshit.

                But there's no reference even to broad-stroke feedback at the time (A says "thanks for meeting us about issues W, X, and Y", B responds "I also mentioned Z, and that's a very serious issue"), let alone a "transcript".

              • weka

                "Are you seriously suggesting that there was no transcript of an official inquiry?"

                Afaik, when the panel and the main complainant met, there was no transcript. I will go look that up to check.

                "And no you havn't said anything about the accused…indeed the rights of the accused have been obvious by their omission…I doubt that would be the case should the roles be reversed"

                What roles? If you want to make assumptions about what my not talking about the accused's rights means, then you are in fact just affirming what I am saying there. That people are making up narratives to support their position. Otherwise you could have just asked.

                 

                • weka

                  He says they will today receive “the transcript of your statement to the investigating panel. I recognise that this is important for all of you.” No such transcripts appear to have ever existed. The handwritten notes that were taken are not provided for another 10 days to one complainant, and a further eight days later to another.

                  https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/11-09-2019/timeline-labour-staffer-misconduct-inquiry/

                   

                • pat

                  what position? the position that justice is blind? 

                  As said there are (at least) two parties that need their rights protected

                  • weka

                    obviously. Yet here you are implying something about my argument based on your assumptions about me not having done something.

                    • pat

                      what testimonies?…the testimonies the QC determined were 'inaccurate'…if there was no transcript she would be unable to determine such…unless you think she is involved in a conspiracy

                    • pat

                      not implying …stating specifically….you are ignoring the rights of the accused

                    • weka []

                      “not implying …stating specifically….you are ignoring the rights of the accused”

                      thanks for clarifying. Do you mean ignoring in the sense of I haven’t said anything about them? Or ignoring in the sense that I am treating them as not important or real when making my arguments here? Because your implication is the latter, in which case I’ll just point out that you are making shit up (unless you want to link to where I have said they are unimportant).

                    • weka

                      I said the transcript of the meeting between the panel and the main complainant. I don't know if this is the same as the testimonies that Shub are referring to. Do you?

                      There appears to be some confusion between notes and transcripts too, so perhaps you could clear up what everyone is referring to.

                    • pat

                      the later…and it dosn’t become you

    • ianmac 6.2

      "And in this case, even though Bennett is an abusive ladder-kicking hypocrite her involvement did in fact get this issue thoroughly investigated."

      Whoopty Doo! That would have been possible if Bennett had approached Labour to warn them of an issue. Not abuse across the floor of the House. 

      • McFlock 6.2.1

        Well, duh. But that's not Bennett's style, is it?

        Meanwhile, if the complainants hadn't gone to Bennett or the opposition in general, nothing would have happened and future complaints would have been handled by Labour in the same shonky way.

        The frog was foolish to give a lift to the scorpion, but telling the scorpion where the baby rats were hiding was a smart move by the frog.

        • weka 6.2.1.1

          going to the media might have sufficed.

        • pat 6.2.1.2

          never mind that two potentially innocent people have lost their jobs and been vilified

          • McFlock 6.2.1.2.1

            Well, one guy who was an aggressive jerk in meetings and social events, and another guy who failed to adequately handle multiple complaints over the last couple of years, some of a very serious nature.

            No huge injustice there.

            • pat 6.2.1.2.1.1

              oh thats ok then….according to McFlock

              • McFlock

                Look, Howarth might be a nice guy, but he fucked up badly and repeatedly. There's no way this issue should have escalated so badly and over such a long period of time.

                As for the staffer, even without the possibility of sexual assault his behaviour is mediocre at best. I think we deserve better than mediocre working in parliament, no?

                • pat

                  so we publicly vilify and sack people for an uninformed opinion of mediocracy now do we?….fuck there'll be nobody left employed , yourself included

                   

  6. ianmac 8

    Spinoff 1 day ago.

    Complainants involved in the Labour Party inquiry into the conduct of a party staffer say they are “angry” and “disappointed” following the release of a report into their allegations. The Spinoff has spoken to some of the former Labour volunteers since the release of a summary of findings by Maria Dew QC into allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying by a Labour staffer. Despite hearing from five complainants, Dew found that almost all the allegations were “not established”.

    So Spinoff is sticking by their claim that the poor girl has been wronged and the Labour Party and Adern have seriously failed to be just.

    https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/worst-nightmare-labour-staffer-complainants-respond-to-dew-report/ar-BBY6HAA

    • ianmac 8.1

      So the complainants can and should take their case to the police. They claim an injustice of serious proportions and they owe it to each other and the credibility of Spinoff to act! If not, why not?

      • weka 8.1.1

        read some of the other comments. Going to the police with sexual assault allegations often damages women further. The system is highly biased against complainants. This is common knowledge in the public domain. Please stop talking as if this is not true.

    • weka 8.2

      My reading of that is that they are reporting (in this case the response of the complainants). I don't see them taking a particular editorial line.

  7. Anne 9

    Spinoff is covering its tracks. There's that thing called reputation and the potential for a bit of suing………..

    I note they fail to mention the fact that complainant #1 admitted to misleading the Labour hierarchy over one of her claims. It is also pretty clear the "attachment" containing the details of her complaint was never received by the recipients. That may well have been an inadvertent error on her part but, if that was the case, she would do herself no harm in admitting it. Most people can relate to such a mistake.

    Its looking more like the complainants are not seeing things very clearly yet and are blaming the wrong people. That was not the fault of Labour, but due to influences beyond them and they would do well to recognise as much.

    • weka 9.1

      Actual wording,

      1. During this investigation, Ms 1 accepted that she had provided misleading information to this investigation and the Party about her email dated 9 March 2019, to the Assistant General Secretary of the Party, Ms Dianna Lacy. This was an email which Ms 1 had previously alleged contained an attached document with her report of the February 2018 sexual assault.

      When you use the word 'admitted', it makes it sound like she lied to Labour and then later came clean to Dew. I haven't seen anything to suggest that. It's possible that Dew is being diplomatic and the complainant did mislead knowingly. It's also possible that the complainant acted in good faith at the time but later acknowledged that she was wrong. We don't know.

      In the absence of knowing, what interests me most is the ways that people are choosing to interpret what is in the public domain.

      • anker 9.1.1

        Yes but Weka, there is the issue of the complainant saying that she told the panel of the sexual assault and all three on the panel being adamant she did not.   There is also her failure to mention to the spinoff she was in a relationship with the complainant at the time (or their failure to mention it). I think this information was relevant.  

         Also the complainants complained that the weren't given enough time to see the report when it was released, when they were given the draft and asked to comment, so would have likely had a good idea of what would be in the report.

        I do understand that these young people feel they haven't been heard.  I guess given there was no restorative justice on offer here, and given the complainant didn't want to go to the police, the way through for these young people is to process their emotions and experience within the context of good therapeutic relationship.  This is where they have a good chance to heal.  Not through the media as they attempted to do.  

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          "Also the complainants complained that the weren't given enough time to see the report when it was released, when they were given the draft and asked to comment, so would have likely had a good idea of what would be in the report."

          Maybe link to back up for that? I thought they were saying that they weren't given enough notice of the release of the report (told the night before).

          Yes but Weka, there is the issue of the complainant saying that she told the panel of the sexual assault and all three on the panel being adamant she did not.   There is also her failure to mention to the spinoff she was in a relationship with the complainant at the time (or their failure to mention it). I think this information was relevant.  

          There's also the issue that two subsequent emails referred to sexual assault and the panel didn't do anything about that.

          Some options. One is that the complainant is outright lying. No sexual assault, didn't tell the panel, manipulated the situation to do maximum political damage to Labour.

          Another option is that she was raped, was in a hugely problematic relationship with the man that raped her, all that had impacts on her mental health, was young and naive and didn't have good support. In the panel meeting she was highly anxious and unprepared, and referred to the sexual assault using language that made it easier for her, and the panel missed this.

          Both those scenarios are me making shit up based on minimal information in the public domain. I'll say again, that my position here is that we don't know, and that our political responses to the situation don't require us to know.

          That people choose to interpret the minimal information to support a specific narrative is a political choice.

          I do agree with you about the media. I have a pretty good capacity to think through various scenarios, but I'd struggle to think of many that involved trusting Paula Bennett. Or National.

           

      • Anne 9.1.2

        When you use the word 'admitted', it makes it sound like she lied to Labour and then later came clean to Dew

        weka I intended no such thing!
         
        1) I was talking about Spinoff leaving out a significant fact as we understand it to be.

        2) I am inclined to think the young complainant "inadvertently" failed to send the attachment.

        You have read more into my comment than is there.

        • weka 9.1.2.1

          I'm not sure I meant that as your intention Anne, rather than this was the impression I was left with from the choice of words. Thanks for clarifying though, because I think how we tell this story is important.

  8. xanthe 10

    What I think actually happened here was some so called "investigative journalists" acted unethically and with malice to maneuver the complainant into agreeing with a seriously over egged version of events.  Overwhelmingly journos and editors in this country are dishonest shits.   altho there are of course a few genuine gems in there too.   We need some public service media where these few genuine journos can ply their trade

  9. Billy 11

    They should sue the Spinoff

  10. Sanctuary 12

    "…

    "The complainant had given media a screenshot of an email and an attached document which she said she had sent to the Labour Party outlining her complaints of sexual assault.

    Ms Dew concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that document was not attached…."

    The bit in bold above is lawyer speak for "I think she is lying". 

    'Nuff said.

    • weka 12.1

      or, the sender thought it was attached, but it wasn't.

      I mean, how hard it is to be clear here? Was the screenshot of the *sent email? If it's as clearcut as some here want to make out, then why didn't Dew just say it plainly?

      • Anne 12.1.1

        If it's as clearcut as some here want to make out, then why didn't Dew just say it plainly?

        Because she didn't want to distress the complainants any more than was necessary? It may well be in the body of the report which has not been made public.

        I'm coming round to the belief these young women were – at least in part – manipulated into the position they found themselves in. And the motivation may not have been entirely to do with their welfare – as xanthe has alluded to.

      • McFlock 12.1.2

        This is another area where basic administrative communication methods would have clearly documented that the panel had received everything a complainant had intended to send:

        • send emails (cc'd to sec'y) after each meeting, outlining what was discussed and what was agreed, and asking if anything was missed;
        • acknowledge emails received, what attachments were received, and forward them to the secretary if the sec'y wasn't the initial point of contact;
        • encourage people to use the secretary as the point of contact for correspondence

        Obviously, make sure complainants are aware that the full panel will be considering the information provided, including in interview notes. Know how to make outlines that omit unnecessary specifics, but include all important subject areas. Give interviewees copies of all records of their respective interviews (and records of what they were given).

         

        • weka 12.1.2.1

          exactly. The panel were clearly out of their depth for dealing with an issue like this.

          • McFlock 12.1.2.1.1

            Thing is, they didn't get unqualified people to do the job. But they had an informal approach that to me indicates they viewed it as an informal job to suss out what was going on, have a chat with everyone involved, and quietly report back on issues that weren't very notable and  weren't going to go anywhere else.

            Maybe at worst they thought it would lead to policy tweaks regarding behaviour and dealing with "person1 doesn't get on with person2" office problems, but it certainly wasn't documented like they thought it might go somewhere.

            But the problem with investigations is that you never know what they will turn into – that walk in the park might be a walk in a minefield.

             

            • weka 12.1.2.1.1.1

              that's my impression. Plus, clueless about how the issues of sexual assault would impact in that. I just posted the snip from The Spinoff below. The subsequent emails named sexual assault as an issue. Whatever happened earlier in the process, that should have change the whole management right there and then.

  11. JustMe 13

    I am so hoping Paula Bennett has destroyed what little credibility she had left due to her actions and Revenge Tactics.

    She has proven herself to be one without morals, scruples or even a conscience.  All she was intent on doing was using others just for HER OWN political goals and aggendas.

    May Karmic Payback hit this undesirable piece of rubbish that is Paula Bennett hard from now on. 

    It is likely Simon Bridges will of course keep his mouth shut and not reprimand her as he is probably intimidated by her.  Either that or he is worried John Key will get him(Bridges)removed as leader of the New Zilland National Party and replace him with Chris Luxon. 

  12. weka 14

    The executive summary notes a disputed email exchange with the Labour committee initially tasked with inquiring into the allegations in March of 2019. It says Ms 1 / Sarah had “accepted that she had provided misleading information to this investigation and the party about her email dated 9 March 2019”. It is unclear what specific information this refers to. The report determines that “on the balance of probabilities, the emails … did not contain any attached document detailing her allegation of sexual assault by the respondent.”

    There is no reference in Dew’s report to the email sent to the Labour panel on April 26 which seeks “an update on the investigation” and stresses: “Just adding the seriousness of the situation here, an accusation of sexual assault, manipulation, bullying and emotional abuse.”

    Nor is there any reference to another email, dated June 11, sent to the three members of the investigation panel, in which the complainant directs them to “attached … notes of testimony”. The attached document, as previously reported by The Spinoff, contains clear reference to her allegation: “SEXUAL ASSAULT occurred February 2018”.

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/18-12-2019/worst-nightmare-labour-staffer-complainants-respond-to-dew-report/

  13. weka 15

    this too,

    When it was put to Jacinda Ardern by Newshub’s Tova O’Brien that complainants had told her they had been rebuffed when asking for the publication of the summary to be delayed, and that they stood by their accounts, Ardern said she would not be discussing “elements of the report”, but would “leave it as it stands.”

    She said: “We don’t want any more harm done by this situation … This process has poorly served everyone. Harm has been done to everyone involved. Now it’s time for us to draw a line in the sand and to try and get back to best practice, because that hasn’t been the case here.”

    She added: “It’s time for us to start trying to look after our Labour members … We know we can and must do better.”

    Nigel Haworth, the president of the Labour Party at the time of the original inquiry, resigned his position on September 11 after Ardern said she had been provided with “the correspondence from complainants written to the party several months ago”. Those documents, she said, “confirm that the allegations made were extremely serious, that the process caused complainants additional distress, and that ultimately, in my view, the party was never equipped to appropriately deal with the issue.”

    Two things stand out. One is subtext of the political expediency needed to draw a line under this so it's not being dragged out into election year.

    The other is that Ardern gets that there were major issues, in what happened originally, in how Labour handled that, and in how this impacts on the complainants. This is a good degree of honesty from Ardern that bodes well, and it's also clear that individuals won't be prioritised over the wellbeing of the party.

    • Ad 15.1

      The only thing Ardern protected was her government. All others became part of the road.

      There is no way she didn't know – it's far too tight a town. Any claim by her otherwise is lies. The sequence of the offending was the talk of activists for months. And of course it was in her own office. FFS.

      • weka 15.1.1

        From the perspective of shifting society on rape and abuse culture, Ardern is an asset. Maybe this isn't as important to you. That she is going to prioritise her party/govt seems normal to me in the context of our macho political system. I'm less interested in the Wellington rumour mill than I am in how society changes. It's a given that various people fucked up, and I'm sure Ardern is in that to some degree but I have no way of knowing. What she does in response I can see and have an opinion about.

         

        • Ad 15.1.1.1

          How has Ardern advanced the shifting our society on rape and abuse culture?

          No one has been held to account. 

          The whole thing has stayed within the Party rather than going to the  Police – who are the only people who should determine if there are crimes to face.

          Ardern has just done cover-up by QC.

          • weka 15.1.1.1.1

            It's the non-heroic stuff.

            That you and I can use the term rape culture, and that this is now normal political vernacular, is thanks to a long line of women that changed the narrative around how sexual assault is discussed.

            … after Ardern said she had been provided with “the correspondence from complainants written to the party several months ago”. Those documents, she said, “confirm that the allegations made were extremely serious, that the process caused complainants additional distress, and that ultimately, in my view, the party was never equipped to appropriately deal with the issue."

            Compare that to say Key shouting at the opposition that they supported rapists and then how the Speaker handled that when actual survivors of sexual assault stood up in parliament and objected. Key/National = zero responsibility, plus promoting rape culture. You can see the longer list here /moving-on-after-fjk/

            Whereas Ardern said, yes, this is real, it's serious, people have been harmed, Labour handled it badly, we need to change. These positions are continents apart.

            "The whole thing has stayed within the Party rather than going to the  Police – who are the only people who should determine if there are crimes to face."

            I'd encourage you do some serious reading on the reasons why women don't go to the police. From your perspective this is a legal issue, from the perspective of women who have been raped it's a survival issue, from a feminist perspective it's an issue of what is actually effective and meaningful. People who want the police to handle such matters should first ascertain that the police are capable often enough for that to be a valid suggestion and that women won't on the whole be further damaged in the process.

            • weka 15.1.1.1.1.1

              another way to look at that is that rape isn't primarily a criminal issue for the survivors. It's an issue of damage and what can repair that. For some women that might be going to the police, but because the justice system is so roundly useless as sexual assault cases, it's just not true that the police is where women should go.

            • ianmac 15.1.1.1.1.2

              Weka: "… after Ardern said she had been provided with “the correspondence from complainants written to the party several months ago”. Those documents, she said, “confirm that the allegations made were extremely serious, that the process caused complainants additional distress, and that ultimately, in my view, the party was never equipped to appropriately deal with the issue."

              Watch the time line. That was a long time after the alleged events. And Jacinda was shown those complaints belatedly and were not the complaints given to the subcommittee, which is the whole point of the enquiry.

              • weka

                what's your point there ianmac? Mine was that Ardern, unlike Key, had a better social response to rape culture. I'm not saying she's handled everything in the process well.

          • ianmac 15.1.1.1.2

            Ad. "No one has been held to account. ."

            Everything that you have written is predicated on there being an offence/crime. If the events described did not happen then those handling the situation had nothing to fix. The 3 on the Labour sub committee were not told about a serious assault either in person or by email. So you cannot accuse them of mishandling.

  14. anker 16

    Ad do you think the QC has covered up?  

    The only person who can in all fairness  go to the police is the complainant.  Somebody else going to the police on her behalf is potentially damaging to the alleged victim and what we are advised not to do as potentially other people taking over could traumatise a victim.

    Unless you are disputing the QC's findings Ad there is no account to be held.  The claims cannot be substantiated.

    Ad the whole thing hasn't stayed within the party.  There was a rather graphic piece detailing the alleged assault on the Spinoff.  The complainant did that.

    I agree that the only people who can determine if there are charges to face are the police. 

    • ianmac 16.1

      "Unless you are disputing the QC's findings Ad there is no account to be held.  The claims cannot be substantiated."

      Yes  but the critics are overlooking that there is no account to be held. 

      • weka 16.1.1

        Some of the complaints were established by Dew. This isn't a case of nothing having happened.

        • ianmac 16.1.1.1

          Of course there were the complaints of bullying rudeness but they were dealt with. The man apologised but the level of bullying was not high enough to warrant legal response. No one denies that.

          But the whole issue was the seriousness of the alleged sexual assault. If the sexual assault could not be established, and that is what is in the report, then how could the subcommittee have dealt with it? And if the subcommittee was never told or written to about it, how could they deal with it, and that is the essence of the whole conflict.

           

          • McFlock 16.1.1.1.1

            The man apologised but the level of bullying was not high enough to warrant legal response. No one denies that.

            If your level of tolerance as an employer is "an outburst that demeans or intimidates colleagues and volunteers every couple of months, but always short of criminal charges being laid", apology or not you're still a shit employer.

            But the whole issue was the seriousness of the alleged sexual assault. If the sexual assault could not be established, and that is what is in the report, then how could the subcommittee have dealt with it?

            With a process that used basic levels of documentation, for a start.

            And if the subcommittee was never told or written to about it, how could they deal with it

            Same as above

            • pat 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Id suggest if you were on the other side of the equation you'd be the first to cry injustice

              • McFlock

                Well, I've never had to apologise for workplace bullying, but if I let an internal office problem fester so badly it resulted in questions in the House, I hope I'd have the decency to fall on my sword before I'm fired for gross incompetence.

                • pat

                  and if someone erroneously accuses you of workplace bullying will you so fall…or will you defend yourself?

                  • McFlock

                    Except he wasn't falsely accused of bullying. That was upheld to the degree it warranted a reprimand and apology. On repeated counts over a fairly short term.

                    It might be "not sufficient to meet the
                    threshold for unlawful bullying" (as opposed to lawful bullying?), but it's bloody surreal that the QC can write:

                    1.34. There are five allegations of overbearing and aggressive conduct established but they do not amount to material breaches of the Constitution, Code of Conduct or the NZLP Bullying and Harassment Policy, and therefore do not warrant a finding of misconduct or serious misconduct.

                    So five counts of "aggressive or overbearing conduct" don't count as misconduct? If it's not misconduct, why recommend a warning letter, apology, and restorative justice meeting in relation to the five instances that were confirmed to have happened?? #logicerror

  15. georgecom 17

    So after weeks and weeks of sensationalizing the story we are left with an independent report which doesn't substantiate allegations of sexual assault. The balance of probabilities is the appropriate  measure for determining if such did or did not occur. Essentially the investigator is stating that once everything is weighed up it most likely did not occur. They prefer the word of those accused over the word of the accuser. All those who were quick to judge before this report was done should now have a good hard look at their conduct and be big enough to admit where they were wrong and admit they used the situation for political capital or cheap headlines.*

    *not that I am expecting the National Party or TV3 news to do so

  16. Chris T 18

    Have to say while this thing was found to be nothing major, and the other dude at the Labour youth party with alleged multiple sexual assaults was apparently nothing major, and Meka Whaitiri  was apparently nothing major (though she ended up ditched), there seems to be a lot of nothing majors in the Labour party with regards to abuse of power, assault and a bit of alleged weird sexual stuff.

    They might want to have a team meeting.

     

     

  17. peterlepaysan 19

    Spinoff has been very curiously quiet about this story.

    Has anyone got any ideas why this might be?

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    16 hours ago
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    18 hours ago
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  • Coalition Govt’s investment in Customs nets record drugs haul: 3 tonnes stopped at borders in 2019
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  • Over $1 million to help Tairāwhiti youth into employment
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  • Crown and Moriori sign a Deed of Settlement
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  • Applications invited for $7 million Regional Culture and Heritage Fund
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    7 days ago
  • Law Commission appointment celebrates Māori and women
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  • Minister of Employment launches Youth Ready Employer Programme
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  • Budget 2020 date announced
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  • Prime Minister’s tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore
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  • Crown accounts in good shape to counter global challenges
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  • Work to begin on a possible new public media entity
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  • Government support for communities impacted by flooding
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  • New grants for seismic strengthening of heritage buildings
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  • Next level results for game development industry
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  • More than 70 marae online through PGF
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  • PGF supports West Coast connectivity
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