Young ACT vice-president Ali Gammeter steps down claiming sexual harassment, 'slut-shaming'

Young ACT vice-president Ali Gammeter has tweeted her intention to step down from the role, claiming she's been "sexually harassed, slutshamed, and ignored".

Gammeter, who studies at Victoria University in Wellington, was National MP Harete Hipango's Youth MP in 2019, and she gained attention after ACT leader David Seymour posted her speech in Parliament about freedom online. 

But the young politician claims to have been mistreated in her role as vice-president of the ACT Party's youth wing, and has resigned from the role. 

"Tonight I resigned as Vice President of Young ACT. For months I have been sexually harassed, slutshamed, and ignored," Gammeter tweeted on Wednesday night. "I am not the only victim of this behaviour in our ranks."

Ali Gammeter
Ali Gammeter Photo credit: Facebook

ACT president Tim Jago said the allegations are being taken "very seriously".

"Any form of harassment is completely unacceptable," he said. "We will be providing Ms Gammeter with any support she requires.

"ACT is now considering a range of options, including appointing an independent person to investigate this matter."

Young ACT said in a statement, "It has been brought to the attention of Young ACT that prevalent and systemic incidents of harm have occurred within its organisation, as well as justified criticisms surrounding how our members using our platforms interact with each other.

"We have failed a standard of care that we owe our members, and for that we apologise."

The youth wing said it plans to investigate reports of sexism and harassment. 

"Those responsible will be held accountable both within the organisation itself and higher if that is the action victims want to go ahead."

Young ACT has been monitoring content online that "crosses the boundaries of reasonable discourse" and said its actions to prevent future incidents of harassment "begins today". 

"Young ACT will begin producing an official equity policy that outlines our response to harassment and bullying, again, in collaboration with outside organisations."

Young ACT president Felix Poole told Newshub some of Gammeter's concerns were first brought to his attention about a month ago while her claims of harassment came to him "a little earlier". 

"As a result of those claims we began producing an equity policy which is very important in dealing with these claims."

He said the youth wing decided to try and get the policy finished quicker and "be more proactive with regards to policing the behaviour of our members".

Young ACT's statement said members have been removed as part of the sweep. Poole said it took place on Wednesday night, and two people were axed from the organisation.

A new vice-president has been named, James Davies, and an equity officer has been appointed, with plans to appoint an additional three people in similar roles.

"Obviously, we didn't act fast enough and we didn't act strongly enough, which led to the result that we have today," Poole said. "It was a failure on our part - we should have acted earlier but we were hesitant to act because we wanted to produce an equity policy."

Poole said Young ACT "should have just used the constitutional powers that we had to kick them out of the young wing like we did last night".

He said he "wasn't aware of the breadth of the problem".

Poole said he has not spoken with ACT leader David Seymour about it yet but said he is planning to do so. 

Earlier this year, Seymour threatened to strip Young ACT of their name, as the youth wing planed to have drug paraphernalia for sale at a university event to promote their new drug policy.

The policy was to legalise not just cannabis but also LSD or acid, magic mushrooms, and MDMA - the main ingredient in ecstasy.

Seymour told Newshub at the time the policy is not something "you'll see anytime soon" and that legalising drugs is "not a political priority" for him.

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