Leaked email tells National MPs how to address bullying saga in media - report

  • 04/12/2018

National MPs have been advised on how to speak to media about bullying, a leaked internal email has revealed. 

The email was sent to NZME by someone claiming to be a National MP, however it's noted in the report that the anonymous email did not come from a parliamentary email address. 

It comes after Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard announced an independent external review into bullying and harassment of staff last month. 

The review will establish whether bullying or harassment has occurred, then investigate the extent of the behaviour. The review will include current and former members of staff.

Former Work and Income NZ chief executive Christine Rankin has since come forward to allege she was subjected to a campaign of bullying from senior ministers who wanted her out - and that Speaker Trevor Mallard was among them. 

"Given the focus on bullying in the media lately and the launch of the Speaker's inquiry, please see some lines below in case stopped on your way in in the morning, if useful," the leaked email allegedly reads.  

It advises MPs to emphasise the party's intention to provide staff with an environment where they feel they can come forward with any issues, NZME reports. 

National MP Maggie Barry appeared to use this technique on Tuesday while addressing media about accusations she bullied and harassed her staff. 

The North Shore MP said she creates "a positive environment" for her staff whom she has "high expectations" of, but treats with "respect [which she's] endeavoured to do in all my work places over a long period of time". 

The leaked email also reportedly lays out how MPs should address questions around National's culture, with accusations of bullying recently coming to light. 

National deputy leader Paula Bennett called Parliament a "robust workplace", and said there needs to be a balance where people aren't "too scared to have a joke or say something that could be cut and pasted and misconstrued in some way". 

When asked if he had received the email, National leader Simon Bridges said he receives hundreds of emails a day and did not confirm. 


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