Labour’s caucus will meet today to discuss what to do about Gaurav Sharma.
The eventual conclusion I think is fairly predictable. Putting aside what happened last week the level of shitfuckery involved in doing a confidential text dump on social media at the very time your leader is giving a post cabinet press conference is exceedingly high.
The latest texts do not really add anything. There is no context, the time and the sender is unknown. But releasing them shows considerable disrespect. For all MPs the message should be if you never want to see a private text on the front page of the Herald do not send it.
There is also a high degree of snowflakery about this. Like it or not Parliament depends on a high level of control. The job is a bit like law. You have to be prepared. You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to be very careful with what you say. A few misplaced words can be the difference between winning and losing a case.
Parliament is not the place where you sit around and hold hands and sing kumbaya. It is a dog eat dog place where the pressure is intense and mistakes are punished.
Work pressures are high. The expectation is that for three days during the sitting week extended hours will be worked by everyone.
Sure it needs to become more family friendly and recent steps taken by the Government following the release of the Francis Report are improving things. Bullying of staff was far too common and staff are now being empowered to ensure this did not happen.
Sharma ought to realise this. His claims of bullying appear to relate directly to the whips not agreeing to do to his staff actions which in my view would amount to bullying. Treating staff in such a way that they need counselling, isolating them from other staff, reducing them to tears and preventing them from discussing things with their manager is on the face of it totally unacceptable.
I can’t see a peaceful negotiated solution to this.
Update: The Labour caucus will give it a go. Sharma’s membership of caucus is suspended but there is to be mediation and a review in December.
Some comments from Ardern:
Ardern said, based on the documents she has reviewed, the Labour whip’s office and Parliamentary Service began working with Sharma to address concerns raised about his staff management. He was then asked to work with a mentor, which he objected to.
“Finally agreement was reached at the end of last year. Further issues were later raised by additional staff members including those in his direct employment, This resulted in another pause on hirinig and again coaching, mentoring and temporary staff in the meantime.
“Gaurav again objected to this intervention and the need for his future hiring of staff or undertakings on his part. A protracted process ensued.”
She has consistently refused suggestions that bullying is a widespread problem within the party.
She said Sharma’s status would be reviewed in December, to allow a chance for a return to caucus if trust with him was able to be restored.
“But in making the decision to suspend, caucus were clear that the team retains the right to revisit the decision at any time if the rules continue to be broken. To be clear, the caucus’ decision was squarely focused on actions over the last few days. What gave rise to those actions also deserves some reflection.”