Labor MPs voted to expel Gaurav Sharma from the party’s caucus. The Labor Party’s New Zealand Council could decide to investigate Sharma for misconduct. Labor leader Claire Szabó said the MP could be censured or expelled from the party altogether. Sharma says he wants “an independent investigation” into his bullying claims, but also into himself, after concerns were raised about his handling of staff.
Gaurav Sharma now faces full expulsion from the Labor Party, after being kicked out of the party’s caucus.
It follows Sharma’s extraordinary week-long attack on the party which concluded with him accusing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of orchestrating a “cover-up”.
Labor whips said 60 MPs voted to expel Sharma, while one abstained and one opposed. Sharma was allowed to vote, the party said, before he was expelled and the caucus voted unanimously to refer the matter to the party council.
The New Zealand Labor Council will meet soon to consider Sharma’s misconduct investigation, party president Claire Szabó said on Tuesday afternoon. Possible punishment for misconduct could include censure or expulsion from the party.
* Why Labor doesn’t pull the waka jump trigger if it expels Gaurav Sharma
* Voters likely to get worst deal if rebel MP Gaurav Sharma ousted, experts say
* Gaurav Sharma’s last chance to be heard in Labor caucus as expulsion looms
The rogue MP’s expulsion from the party’s parliamentary wing had immediate effect, making Sharma an independent MP for Hamilton West.
Labor MPs heard from Sharma directly on Tuesday morning, before voting to kick him out of caucus.
MP Gaurav Sharma’s expulsion was effective immediately, making him an independent MP for Hamilton West.
Sharma argued there should be an “independent inquiry” into his claims against party leadership, staff and some MPs, but his former colleagues voted to expel him.
Ardern said it was extraordinary that there had been a near-unanimous vote to expel Sharma, especially considering she “had friends” in the caucus just two weeks ago.
As far as the Labor Party was concerned, the problem was already solved, Ardern said.
Labor MPs previously voted to suspend Sharma from caucus on August 16, at a meeting he refused to attend and instead described as a “kangaroo court”. As he continued his public campaign against the party, the caucus scheduled a vote on his expulsion.
THINGS / Connor Scott
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says MP Gaurav Sharma was kicked out because he broke caucus rules.
Sharma betrayed Labour’s trust: Ardern
Ardern, in a statement after the caucus vote, said Sharma had engaged in “calculated breaches of caucus rules”.
“Despite offering an opportunity to resolve his issues and regain trust, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he no longer wants to be a member of the caucus.
“His consistent and consistent breach of caucus rules has resulted in the total loss of confidence of his fellow Labor MPs,” he said.
Sharma calls for investigation
Sharma walked out of the meeting, repeating his call for an “independent inquiry” into his so far unfounded claims against several MPs.
“Why isn’t there an independent inquiry into me to see if I really did harass staff, as people have claimed? And why isn’t there an independent inquiry into Kieran McAnulty?
Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Rebel MP Dr Gaurav Sharma speaks to the media ahead of the Labor caucus vote on whether to expel him.
Sharma has mounted a public campaign of bullying and other allegations against his colleagues, including former whip McAnulty and Duncan Webb. The allegations came after he was not allowed to hire more constituency staff because of the way he conducted himself in his office.
McAnulty reiterated that he had never harassed Sharma and said he only tried to manage issues between the Hamilton West MP and his staff.
Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Minister Kieran McAnulty has been the subject of Gaurav Sharma’s harassment allegations.
“The last 13 days have been incredibly hard. It’s really horrible to be accused of something that’s not true,” he said.
Webb said he never bullied anyone and would listen to Sharma at the caucus meeting.
On Monday, Sharma leaked a text message purporting to show Minister Kiri Allan urging MPs not to send “OIA-able” [Official Information Act] messages to ministers.
However, Webb said the party did not attempt to withhold information from the Official Information Act (OIA). The party tried to teach MPs about how the OIA worked, rather than how to avoid it.
The Prime Minister, ministers and Labor MPs say they do not trust Sharma
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says MP Gaurav Sharma has the right to speak during the caucus meeting to decide his fate.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Labor voted to expel Sharma because of “a loss of trust” between him and the caucus.
“He’s certainly made blatantly incorrect statements,” he said, before the caucus vote.
“He has targeted members of staff, MPs and others who have not had the opportunity to defend themselves. This makes me deeply uncomfortable.”
Asked whether there should be an investigation into Sharma’s claims of bullying and MPs allegedly being trained to dodge Official Information Act requests, Attorney General David Parker said that there shouldn’t be.
“Absolutely not, it’s attention-seeking behavior and I know, for example, from Kieran McAnulty who is trustworthy and mature.”
Chief Minister Willie Jacskon said Sharma had “absolutely” lost his confidence.
“I’m very sad about it. I’m very proud of the approach we’ve taken. I think it’s incredibly conciliatory,” said Helen White, a list-based MP who came in 2020 with Sharma.
“I think he’s made his own choices.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Labor MPs voted unanimously to suspend MP Gaurav Sharma.
White, who used to be an employment lawyer, said she had seen the kind of behavior Sharma displayed throughout her professional career.
“We have very strong, very good communication in our caucus. And, you know, it’s a shame that it’s gone away from that,” he said.
“I think he has been given a good and fair treatment.”