'Mistakes have been made' - Ardern on Labour camp incident

The Prime Minister says if she had to sack everyone who made a mistake, there would be no one left in politics.

"We absolutely accept mistakes have been made and from a range of different people involved," Jacinda Ardern told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning, when asked about the Young Labour summer camp scandal.

"But, look, if everyone who ever made a mistake in their job was sacked, we wouldn't be left with many people left, particularly in politics.

"I'm sure I will make mistakes in the way that I continue to manage this on an ongoing basis too, but we will do our best."

It's alleged a 20-year-old man assaulted or harassed four 16 to 18-year-olds at Young Labour's summer camp in Waihi last month.

General Secretary Andrew Kirton was made aware of the allegations in the days following, but didn't inform the teenagers' parents.

Ms Ardern says the "major mistake" on his part was his delay in "putting support around those young people".

"Of course, though, there were elements of this issue that weren't even raised with him directly; they went to other members of Young Labour, and so again, it is complex.

"[Andrew] sought for contact to be made with those young people and was not made aware when they responded, because that was dealt with by another party."

Ms Ardern said she didn't think Mr Kirton should lose his job, but wouldn't rule out the possibility he'd be asked to go following an external review of the party's handling of the incident.

"Mistakes were made by Andrew... that's not in question. But we do need to make sure we do this properly."

She said that while there was criticism of Mr Kirton, there have also been "...people who've worked in the sexual abuse space who've said on some elements he did absolutely the right thing".

"So it does go both ways."

She's also defending Labour MP Megan Woods' decision not to inform the Prime Minister straight away. Ms Ardern only found out through the media last week.

"That's political management. And, look, we can talk about whether or not a no-surprises policy should've kicked in at that point, but actually, the more important point was working alongside the party to get the support for these young people."

Labour MP Liz Craig, who was pictured at the camp beside young people consuming beverages, was asleep when the alleged assault occurred. However Ms Ardern says it's not yet established whether the drinks were alcoholic.

Liz Craig pictured at the Young Labour camp, where the alleged assault took place.
Liz Craig pictured at the Young Labour camp, where the alleged assault took place. Photo credit: Facebook

All Young Labour events have been suspended and an external review is underway.

The Labour Party is also establishing a mechanism for anyone else to be able to come forward with any allegations, "regardless of whether it's historic or not".

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz