Jenna Lynch: Gaurav Sharma's fate is sealed, but investigation needed after explosive claims

OPINION: One last chance. Final warning. Last strike. 

It all meant nothing to Gaurav Sharma. He must have known his ultimate fate was sealed. Even if the Labour caucus lifted his suspension it's likely the party would deselect him next year. He wouldn't be the MP for Hamilton West again. His time was limited. 

So what's he got to lose? 

In an explosive interview with Newshub, Gaurav Sharma threw grenades every which way, extending his bullying accusations to the Labour leadership, alleging a cover-up culture, making claims of misspent taxpayer cash against his colleagues. He hit the nuclear button. 

But he was backed into a corner - feeling the nuclear button was his only option. 

Sharma says he was warned that the machinations of the Labour Party would either discredit his claims or blame mental health. And the warning was sound. The Prime Minister's Office has moved to discredit him saying he is misrepresenting conversations, his wellbeing called into question. 

So Sharma went for it. And while the ninth floor might see this as an MP aimlessly lashing out, his allegations cannot be ignored.

The claim that Labour is teaching their MPs how to avoid the Official Information Act and that Beehive staffers were using different job titles to subvert the Act should be investigated. 

Sharma says during a workshop last Monday he and his 2020 intake of MPs were required to attend they were told how to raise issues without leaving a track record of it. 

He said he asked how to raise an issue with the Prime Minister's Office. 

"They said the staffing arrangements are done in a way that some staff work part-time for Labour Leader's Office and part-time for Prime Minister's Office and when they want to prevent OIA, they just sort of make it that this is Labour Leader's problem, this is not the Prime Minister's Office's problem and then they can get away with it."

Information held by Ministers is subject to the OIA, but information held by Labour MPs is not. 

Obviously, we put all of these claims to the Prime Minister's Office - we never received a proper response to the allegation they're using different job titles to hide information from the public. 

Labour MP Gaurav Sharma.
Labour MP Gaurav Sharma. Photo credit: Newshub.

Split contracts are standard practice, used not just by this current government. The legitimate function of them is to allow staff from the Prime minister's Office to assist non-ministerial MPs - such as the backbencher who is brutally attacking them in public. 

And to be fair there's a long-standing unwritten rule in the Beehive that if you don't want the public to know about it - you pick up the phone rather than put it in writing. You see, anything in writing can be requested and must be released to the public under the Official Information Act. Conversations - well while technically any recollections of conversations can be requested - they're unlikely to turn anything up. 

So people inside the tent will probably shrug their shoulders at this. Long-standing practice. But that doesn't make it ok, especially when the Labour Party promised openness and transparency. Anyone who's tried to get official information out of this Government will attest to how difficult it's become.

There clearly needs to be an authoritative public investigation of the behaviour of Beehive staffers to determine where the line is and what the public has the right to know.

For Sharma, the only way now is out. Whether he falls on his sword or Labour boots him, it's over. 

A lack of trust was the key factor in his suspension - rebuilding trust was the only way back so it's hard to see how secretly recording his colleague, releasing that information to us and launching another grenade at the Prime Minister could result in anything other than his expulsion. 

Labour's caucus will meet on Tuesday to consider a motion to expel him, the next decision for the Prime Minister is whether to let him stay on as an independent MP or utilise the waka-jumping legislation and get him the heck away from Parliament altogether. 

Sharma hasn't decided whether he'll run against his party if they force a by-election. 

It's clear Gaurav is a goner - but an investigation is still warranted. The allegations he's made about avoiding transparency should be answered.

Jenna Lynch is Newshub's Political Editor