Labour MP Gaurav Sharma will attend caucus meeting, face off with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, to learn fate

The capital braces for another protest, with rogue MP Gaurav Sharma facing trial and more funding for flood-torn parts of the country, in the latest headline in the New Zealand Herald.Video/New Zealand Herald

Under-fire Labour MP Gaurav Sharma is due to attend today’s meeting, where a vote will be held on whether to expel him from the caucus.

The Hamilton West MP faces dismissal after accusations were made against senior party figures including the prime minister.

Sharma told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that he will be attending today’s meeting in person or via Zoom.

Sharma said when senior lawmakers told him the full plan after their first meeting last week, it was hard to believe the outcome would not be predetermined.

“I gave all the facts, other MPs said they were being bullied, and I gave screenshots.

“Why not give Kieran McAnulty a chance to clean up or I’ll have a chance to clean up.

“I was invited to the meeting and initially I was not allowed to attend, but yesterday I was told I would be asked to partially consider options.”

Sharma said he was concerned that even with all the evidence other MPs were being bullied, there was no independent investigation.

“For the last week or two, they have followed my example, ‘If you are against the party or its leadership, you will have no chance because your image will be ruined.

“The person I shared the screenshots replied to me saying they were still with me and the other told me they were worried about being discovered.”

Sharma said his focus remained on completing the investigation and would consider his options if he were fired.

“I’m clearly a left-leaning and progressive person; I don’t have to agree with a political party. If my constituents raise their concerns with me, I’ll raise them too.

“A lot of times I open up to voters’ concerns rather than stick to one ideology.”

Labour MPs who arrived in parliament showed little sympathy for Sharma, with many saying they did not trust him – including those in his 2020 intake.

Minister David Parker said Sharma’s conduct was disappointing and that the investigation Sharma was seeking was unfounded, and he did not believe the allegations that the whip had bullied MPs.

“Absolutely not. It’s attention seeking. I know Kieran McAnulty, he’s trustworthy, mature, and I trust him.”

List MP Helen White said that, as one of his 2020 intake MPs, she had been in regular contact with Sharma to check on his welfare and believed he would attend the meeting “with eyes wide open”.

“He made his choice and I think he’s going to do it with his eyes wide open. I think with the mediation offer and suspension, he’s been treated well and fairly.”

A former employment lawyer, she said the mediation offered to Sharma, which would have been a good way to rebuild trust, was not taken up. “So I’m really sad.”

“I’m very sad about this. I’m very proud of the process we’ve taken, it’s really reconciled.”

Asked if she was concerned he would release tapes of her conversations with him, White said she didn’t think it mattered. “But I think it’s not helpful in this situation for people to doubt themselves.”

When asked if she would vote to expel him, Camilla Belich said he had lost her trust.

“His behavior has cost me trust, so it’s very frustrating and disappointing.”

She said he was given a fair process and regretted that he did not accept the offer of mediation.

“I think that’s how most New Zealand workers solve the problem.”

Both White and Belich said they had not experienced the kind of bullying Sharma claimed and found the whip to be very supportive.

Northland MP Willow Jean Prime said “no” when asked if she still trusted Sharma.

“He had the opportunity this morning to come to the caucus and discuss it with us, and I hope he does.”

She said it would be up to the caucus to decide whether to deport him.

Labour chair Claire Szabo said she would not comment before the caucus.

If Sharma is sacked, Szabo and Labour’s New Zealand committee may also start the process of removing him from the wider party – a process that will take some time and will require an investigation before any action is taken.

Maungakiekie MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan said Sharma was suspended for breaching caucus rules and continued to breach them. “I’m going to see what happens in the caucus. We haven’t heard his position, right, because he’s not in the caucus.”

She said she didn’t think anyone was impressed by his actions and that she “doesn’t believe it at the moment, doesn’t believe it”.

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