Labour MP unloads on Facebook accusing CHCH MP of not dealing with complaint

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 12, 2022 |

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma / Photo: File

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma has unleashed on Facebook tonight, accusing his own party of failing to deal with bullying complaints.

He posted a long statement on his public page, following the Prime Minister’s press conference.

Jacinda Ardern said Parliament, like any other workplace, must be free from bullying, and that expectation applied to everyone, including MPs.

A former staff member to Sharma told the New Zealand Herald “a culture of bullying existed in his office.”

The staffer described the MP as controlling and said Sharma tried to isolate his staff from other Labour parliamentary staff in Hamilton.

Sharma did not address those allegations tonight.

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma / Photo: Facebook

He wrote “before I took my oath I was assigned a relationship manager by Parliamentary Services to look after me and my staffing levels.

This person had a direct conflict of interest in their role due to being a Labour member who had tried to stop me from getting selected as a candidate. I raised this issue with a senior Parliamentary Manager who assured me that this would never be an issue.”

Sharma said in February 2021 he raised concerns about his underperforming staff member, but instead of listening, this was turned into a major project by the Labour Party Whips “to bring me into disrepute and to rein me in.”

“I wrote numerous emails to Parliamentary Services and Whips Office asking for support, providing significant evidence of underperformance by a staff member but I was told in clear words “if you are staying up and working until 3am, you should work until 5am to make up for your staff’s incompetence.”

Sharma said he raised issues involving a staff member being drunk at work, not showing up to work, being sent on leave without any notice or approval, and a significant wastage of taxpayer’s money.

But was told he needed to “shut up” and do a mentoring course on managing people.

“I had hundreds of pages to prove that my staff wasn’t doing the work they were hired to do and it affected my ability to provide services to my constituents, but I was never listened to.”

Sharma accused “an MP of the Labour Party and a Parliamentary staff member (also a Labour Member) of misusing taxpayers’ money.”

I was told by then Junior Whip Duncan Webb that what I did was wrong and I should be ashamed of myself.

— Labour MP Gaurav Sharma

He claimed he spoke to Christchurch-based MP Duncan Webb about the issues.

“I was told by then Junior Whip Duncan Webb that what I did was wrong and I should be ashamed of myself.

I was told that it was lucky that this Parliamentary Services Relationship Manager (who I had raised issues re conflict of interest) informed the Whips Office because it could have fallen into the wrong hands which could have caused trouble.

I was then told by Duncan Webb that an accusation like this could mean that the government could get into trouble, lose the election and such issues needed to be contained rather than discussed freely. I was then told by Duncan Webb in clear terms that “the only way this country can succeed is if Labour is in government. Government means Labour. So the Party comes first and foremost before the country.” The matter was never looked into and everything was hushed.”

He claimed he went to the Prime Minister’s Office, but said nothing came of the meeting.

Webb said today that his office had become aware of issues between Gaurav and some of his staff a year ago.

“At all times the Whip’s office has acted in good faith and sought to work constructively with Gaurav and the Parliamentary Service to ensure he has good support available to address issues between him and his staff.

The statement said it “seemed prudent” to recently pause hiring with the intention of providing further assistance before more staff were hired into Sharma’s office.

“The Parliamentary Service and I met with Gaurav in good faith to progress these issues as recently as yesterday, he was fully represented at that meeting.”

The statement said, “we are mindful these are ongoing relationships, so we must respect individual’s privacy, but we will continue to seek a resolution with Gaurav in the coming weeks.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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