Bennett 'politicising' staffer's harassment claims - Jackson

Labour MP Willie Jackson says the party is still waiting for official complaints to be laid regarding alleged bullying and sexual harassment by a Labour Party staff member.

National deputy leader Paula Bennett on Thursday said she had been approached by a Beehive staff member with "serious" accusations against a man "who works for the [Prime Minister]". 

"She says she and other women have been silenced and told not to go the police by senior members of Ardern's office and the Labour Party. They are scared to be at work," she wrote on Twitter.

"She expressed to me that they're at the stage now where they're seeing people having panic attacks, crying, and really serious anxiety," Bennett later told Newshub. 

"They've taken the really extraordinary step - because they feel they are not being listened to or taken seriously - to actually come to the deputy leader of the Opposition to hope that they can be heard."

Jackson told The AM Show on Friday there was no cover-up.

"In my history as a union official, I don't put up with bullying of any type or any harassment. I'm absolutely worried about it, as we are in the party, but we haven't had any complaints to Parliamentary Services or to Ministerial Services yet. We're waiting for those complaints."

He then took a shot at Bennett's decision to go on social media, rather than get in touch with Labour, saying she was "politicising" the alleged victim's situation.

"If Paula was so concerned about all of this, don't you reckon her first point of call was to pick up the phone and ring Jacinda [Ardern, Prime Minister]? She's a former Deputy Prime Minister, for goodness' sake. She's the deputy leader of the National Party. Judith Collins would have picked the phone up... She went on Twitter."

Collins, appearing on The AM Show with Jackson, appeared to agree with Jackson.

"I'd probably pull in whoever was in charge to let them know. I've certainly in the past raised issues."

She also acknowledged Labour's restraint during the Jami-Lee Ross saga, which dominated leader Simon Bridges' first year in charge, but with a sly dig at the party.

"Labour was quite restrained, and I presumed it was because people in glass houses don't throw stones."

Collins however also backed Bennett's decision to take a different approach.

"Going on Twitter certainly got a reaction, certainly got some action happening. It's good. These people who have gone to see Paula say they did complain and nobody did anything."

Ardern on Thursday said she's talked to Speaker Trevor Mallard about his obligation to provide a safe workplace. Mallard declined to comment when approached by Newshub on Thursday.

"If anyone else wants to come and speak to me, I will absolutely keep their confidence," said Ardern.

Labour has been dogged by claims of harassment and bullying within the party since early 2018.



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