Labour to hold caucus meeting to resolve Dr Gaurav Sharma situation

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Labour caucus will meet this week to deal with the Gaurav Sharma situation.

The caucus was not due to meet until next Tuesday, because it is a recess week at Parliament.

Ardern has been fending off accusations of bullying within the government from her party's own Hamilton West MP Gaurav Sharma, who had an article published and doubled down in a social media post at the end of last week.

Sharma also said his claims of misspent taxpayer funding were hushed up, although the Parliamentary Service said his claims were investigated and no spending rules were broken.

In a post-Cabinet conference this afternoon, Ardern said all the way through this issue and any issue that was faced, "where suddenly our MPs have been in the spotlight regardless of the substance that's brought them there, we have always been concerned about ensuring that the wellbeing of our MPs sits first and foremost".

The Government would seek a resolution to these issues this week, "but front and centre will always be the wellbeing of our staff but also of our MPs", she said.

The support provided for the caucus had to be consistent and meet a very high-pressure environment, she said.

"Is this a tough place to be? Yes, and that's why we have for instance ensured that in this new intake we have professional supervision on offer, we have management coaching on offer, professional development on offer, and I can tell you that is a vast improvement on what I have seen in this place over the past 10 years."

She said she had seen interventions from the party whips - Kieran McAnulty who was formerly in the chief whip role, and Duncan Webb - that were used because concerns were raised by staff members around the management of Gaurav Sharma's team.

"It's clear that there wasn't always agreement that was necessary, by Gaurav. But that doesn't necessarily constitute what he has characterised as bullying. I've looked at those processes, I've looked at those interventions. Whilst I don't believe they have substantiated his claims of bullying we'll always look to improve our processes, because some of them are new and they're there to look after our staff, but ultimately to also look after our MPs."

When there was an issue of this nature, the Labour Party's rules set out that it is for the caucus to resolve, she said.

"We haven't formally set down a meeting for this week because it is a recess, there isn't a standard caucus during this time, but we'll look to convene across the course of this week."

Such meetings of caucus outside of sitting weeks were not unusual, she said.