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PM’s Post-Cab 16/9/19: A Way Forward

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At Monday’s post-cabinet press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a number of actions in response to the Labour Party’s mishandling of sexual assault complaints. She began by emphasising that there were “no excuses” for the …


Prime Minister’s Post-Cabinet Press Conference, 16 September 2019: A Way Forward

At Monday’s post-cabinet press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a number of actions in response to the Labour Party’s mishandling of sexual assault complaints. She began by emphasising that there were “no excuses” for the party failing their duty of care, and the panel’s insistence that they had not received details of some allegations did not change the failure to investigate. She said if this could happen in the Labour Party as she saw it, it could happen anywhere, and hoped to bring lessons to assist other workplaces and institutions. The actions were intended to meet the complainant’s needs and provide a way forward for the party:

  • Terms of reference for Maria Dew QC’s inquiry into the substance of the allegations have been agreed. The QC will not investigate Labour’s handling of the issue. Ardern said complainants and the respondent did not want the terms of reference released. The release of the QC’s report would be “down to complainants”.
  • An independent reviewer will take over work done by Labour’s lawyers Kensington Swan examining Labour’s earlier handling of the process and conduct a review based on documents. Ardern expected the report to be released subject to redactions requested by the parties involved.
  • A victim’s advocate will be appointed to establish prevention, training, organisational competence, and processes.
  • Ardern will meet the complainants.
  • Poto Williams MP will lead work on supporting party culture change in leadup to Labour’s national conference.

Question on this covered details of these processes and the release of the reports, a statements from the Labour investigating panel member Simon Mitchell maintaining the sexual assault allegation was never raised with the panel (Ardern said she expects Labour to reinforce the need to work through the QC process rather than the public forum in future), her “absolute reassurance” her office not spreading names, the response to her call to the Labour membership for other party culture issues, and any knowledge ministers or staff may have now admitted to having.

Ardern had begun the press conference saying it was a week focussing on “economy and jobs”, including discussions with UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who is in New Zealand to prepare negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal. Ardern will also visit Japan for a meeting with their Prime Minister and to support Tourism NZ promotion around the Rugby World cup. She said she would attend “one game”. Ardern will the travel to New York for UN Leaders Week, where she will also speak at a climate change events and hold bilateral meetings.

Other questions covered the US blaming Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and whether any decision had been made on agricultural emissions in the ETS.

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