PM Jacinda Ardern on the freedom and rights protest in Parliament tomorrow.Video / Mark Mitchell
Ahead of a vote on whether to expel Hamilton west MP Gaurav Sharma from the Labour caucus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the party did not intend to trigger the waka jumping law to force him out of parliament entirely.
Ardern said it would be up to the Labour caucus to decide whether to fire him on Tuesday morning after he repeatedly attacked party figures and released caucus messages to the media.
If expelled, the party could try to use the waka jumping method to force him out, but Ardern pointed to the cost of the by-election.
“This is not something we intend to discuss or do trigger at this stage. For us, the first priority is not to incur undue costs to taxpayers. It does not predetermine the decisions that the caucus will make, but at this stage, we There is no intention to discuss that legislation or to discuss triggering it.”
Triggering the law would require the party to show that Sharma is distorting proportionality in Parliament – something that could be difficult if Sharma continues to vote with Labour on legislation.
Ardern admits the people who voted for Sharma at Hamilton West did it because they wanted Labour representation, which is why they tried to get him involved in mediation and start with suspension rather than expulsion.
Ardern said she encouraged him to attend a caucus meeting to get what he said was natural justice – but pointed out that he refused to attend an earlier caucus meeting to suspend him and had not taken any other opportunity to get involved, including the mediation process.
Ardern said the heart of the issue was not Sharma’s initial public statements, but his conduct since then – including Sharma’s refusal to participate in any efforts to resolve the issue.
Sharma told the Herald he had not considered whether he would resign or remain an independent MP, but was focused on trying to investigate allegations of bullying against himself and his own being bullied by former chief whip Kieran McAnuti accusation.
“My point remains the same, why haven’t we investigated such a large claim? [Ardern] It sounds odd to say that the threshold for an investigation was not met. “
When asked how she felt about what Sharma said about her, Ardern said what she found most difficult was what Sharma said about other MPs who she knew worked hard and were capable.
“I can’t understand the way Gaurav Sharma describes these people and I find it hard to see them being attacked. When it comes to me, I rely on the fact that I hope people have learned about me over time.”
Sharma was suspended last week after making a series of public statements accusing Labour of bullying over personnel management issues.
He was warned that if he continued to attack he would be fired.
Ardern was also asked about Sharma’s latest bid to substantiate his claim that MPs are being instructed on how to avoid the Official Information Act: to publish screenshots of minister Kiri Allan’s message to the caucus urging them to call the minister before lobbying him. writing.
In the message, Allen wrote: “All correspondence can go through OIA [sic]. “
Sharma claims the information contradicts Ardern’s recent comments that her government is committed to respecting the spirit of the Official Information Act (OIA).
“There are issues of accountability and transparency here,” Sharma told the Herald.
A spokesman for Allen said in a written statement that Allen “is simply offering new caucus members an opportunity to discuss the process to ensure they are aware of this.”
“The information suggests that if an MP tried to lobby the minister about a statutory decision she was making, it would be official and would be subject to the OIA.”
Ardern said Allen had raised the issue that lobbying the minister for a decision might be inappropriate and it would be best to check first whether it would interfere with the minister’s decision-making process.
“She often makes decisions where she needs to make sure no one compromises. Reminding MPs that lobbying ministers for decisions is not appropriate, and if you do, of course it will be information that will be released.”
She said it was “cynic” to suggest that lobbying would still happen but not be in writing. “We can be subject to judicial review based on the decisions we make. We do need to make sure we make those decisions carefully.”
Ardern showed little interest in trying to identify another MP in a phone conversation Sharma released to the media, saying she didn’t want to get into “tit for tat” over the secret recording.
“I don’t think the fact that this happened in the first place is inappropriate. And, personally, I think it’s very likely that someone thinks they’re helping Labour with a very difficult situation.”
She doesn’t think it’s an indication of broader discontent among backbenchers, who she says have a lot of support from MPs.
She again ruled out Sharma’s request for an independent inquiry into the bullying allegations against him and the allegations made against him by him and staff. Ardern said there was no evidence to back this up, and it would be costly and stressful for employees who were dragged into it.
Sharma, who did not attend last week’s online meeting, was suspended by a unanimous vote, which he later said was because he feared the outcome had been predetermined at a secret meeting of Labour MPs about him the night before.
‘Not my intention’ to reach out to protesters – PM
Ardern said she had no plans to engage with protesters who came to parliament tomorrow and urged them to remain “peaceful and lawful”.
Safety measures around the council include blackout curtains on lower-level honeycomb windows, road closures and barricades to keep protesters from approaching the council.
However, the council grounds will be open to them, not the forecourt in front of the council.
When asked if the measures were disproportionate, Ardern said it was a balance between the right to protest and preventing a situation like the 23-day occupancy of the venue in February and March.
“We did have an experience recently that took a huge toll on the council and its grounds, so it’s only natural to see these additional assurances in place to ensure the protest happens in a way that doesn’t cause significant damage afterwards. “
She said it was the way to ensure democracy without affecting the lives of the council and nearby residents.
She ruled out the snap elections they called for.
“No, maybe you might want to ask them on what basis. I’m not entirely sure what the protest is for, but that’s for them.”
Brian Tamaki told the Herald today that his group had no intention of taking over parliament, which he expected to end around 2pm, and that he and his supporters did not want any violence. However, he said he could not be held responsible for what other groups involved in the protest might have done – members of Freedom Voice and others who attended earlier protests were also in Wellington.
On whether she was concerned that far-right groups or extremist groups would piggyback on protests, Ardern reiterated that her main concern was peaceful, legal protests.
“Certainly if you pay attention, as we’ve seen in the past, hate messages, derogatory messages about racial or religious communities, or really false messages, you’re concerned. That’s certainly a problem.”
Threats to politicians and the media were a concern, but police were following up on those issues, not politicians, she said.
When asked about YouTuber Avi Yemini, who was denied entry to New Zealand to take part in the protests, Ardern said she only knew about public domain content and she didn’t know it in advance.
She doesn’t think it will reach a level that requires ministerial intervention to stop entry, but Immigration.
Business as usual for Kiwibank after acquisition – Robertson
Treasurer Grant Robertson said the government’s decision to buy Kiwibank outright would be “business as usual” for the bank’s customers and staff.
This morning Robertson announced the government would buy KiwiBank for $2.1 billion, a proposal to buy 100 per cent of Kiwi Group Holdings, the parent company of Kiwibank and NZ Home Loans.
The deal first needs approval from the Reserve Bank – KGH is currently 53% owned by NZ Post, 25% by the New Zealand Pension Fund and 22% by the Accident Compensation Corporation.
Robertson said the paths of NZ Post, ACC and SuperFund were different from when they initially invested.
He said the SuperFund’s desire for a majority stake was at odds with the government’s desire to keep the bank 100 per cent New Zealand ownership – as was the case with government takeovers. It will be managed independently and at a distance from the government, he said.
Asked why the government needed to own a bank given there was already a lot of competition in the industry, Robertson said while Kiwibank was not as big as other banks, it was important to have a bank where all profits stayed in New Zealand.