Parliament trains people to be 'adversarial', but they shouldn't be bullies - Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins says Parliament is built to be "adversarial", but that's no excuse for some of the behaviour that has gone on at the Beehive.

A recent investigation found a culture of bullying and harassment inside Parliament, including allegations of serious sexual assault.

Hipkins, Minister for Ministerial Services and State Services, told Newshub Nation on Saturday he's seen people treated unfairly around Parliament.  

He said our system of democracy does make it a challenge to keep a cool head, as it's designed around robust debate.

"In a democratic system of Government, like we have here in New Zealand, an adversarial approach is built into it, it's designed to be adversarial and that is going to create conflict.

"There's a difference between legitimate conflict, legitimate scrutiny, legitimate accountability and bullying."

Hipkins said it's clear some of the interactions politicians have with their staff, or staff have with other staff, are not okay.

"You can be adversarial, you can do your job in a democratic system without treating people as abysmally as some people around here have been treated."

Host Simon Shepherd asked if the bullying culture exists right across the public sector, but Hipkins said he can't be sure.

"Any workplace is going to have challenges if they have a culture that allows bullying, without going through every different department or agency I can't say where that might exist.

"But my message to every chief executive in the public service is my expectation of them is that they will ensure that their workplace is not one of those workplaces that has that type of culture."


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