Labour accused of 'dropping the ball' on Young Labour sexual assault claims

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Labour Party President Nigel Haworth have delivered an apologetic press conference, admitting major failings by the party.

Ms Ardern said the burden of care and responsibility for those allegedly sexually assualted at a summer camp should not have been left to members of Young Labour.

"We handled this very, very badly as a party," Ms Ardern said.

Four young people were allegedly sexually assaulted or harassed by a 20-year-old man at the Young Labour Camp in February. After the story broke in the media, one of the victims has spoke to police, who are investigating.

Labour has been criticised for being slow to offer the 16-year-olds professional help, and for failing to explicitly offer to take the victims of alleged assault to the police station. 

At the press conference, when a journalist told Ms Ardern Labour has dropped the ball on this issue and asked how the public can continue to have confidence in the Government, Ms Ardern implied much has been done since the issue came to her and the public's attention on Monday.

"We have established in that time someone who is able to independently work alongside the victims of this situation to make sure we address their needs in the way we should have from the beginning," she said.

"[We've established someone] to put in place policies that make sure this does not happen again - to work alongside Young Labour.

"Mistakes have been made. We are owning that."

The party is also facing criticism for the presence of alcohol at the event. Young people attended the event with parental consent, but on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Ardern was unable to say whether those consent forms mentioned alcohol.

Labour MP Liz Craig was at the event that night. On Wednesday afternoon, she deleted a photo from her Facebook page which showed her seated at a table with a group of young adults who were drinking alcohol.

Ms Ardern said Ms Craig was asleep at the time of the abuse.

"I don't think it's fair to place blame on someone who attended as a contributor to the camp and wasn't ultimately an organiser," she explained.

"It's not appropriate that we left it up to Young Labour to run this event."


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