Paula Bennett calls on Govt to bring in victim specialists following alleged sexual assault by Labour Party staffer

National's deputy leader Paula Bennett wants the Government to bring in victim specialists to look into an allegation of sexual assault levelled at a Labour Party staffer.

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National’s deputy leader told Breakfast the Government should have handled the case differently from the start. Source: Breakfast

Earlier this year, Labour began investigating after seven people made complaints against a staffer. Three-months-later, the staffer was cleared. In August, the Prime Minister ordered a review by a QC after complaints about the process.

Following claims this week from a woman who said she raised a sexual assault allegation with the investigation, the QC will now look at the whole investigation.

Yesterday Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the handling of the allegations and Jacinda Ardern apologised to the complainants, admitting harm was caused by the process of an investigation by the party.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast today Paula Bennett said the victims "did not get a fair hearing" and were repeatedly ignored by the "numerous" people they have spoken to.

"They have been trying everything they can to be heard in extremely traumatising circumstances to the point where they've come to me, as a National MP, because they weren't getting heard from their own party," she said.

Ms Bennett called the QC investigation "a rabbit hole or a distraction" to cover up the "completely flawed" process. She said the situation should have been handled differently from the start.

"Now what they need to do is what they should have done over a year ago - bring in the victim specialist," Ms Bennett said.

"They've got Kim McGregor, who's a victims' advocate; Louise Nicholas out there, who does an outstanding job - bring those people in to truly look at this and talk to the victims and get the right response.

"That needs to happen, should have happened months ago. It should be happening today."

Ms Bennett is calling for cultural change, both in Parliament and in society.

"[The victims] thought [Jacinda Ardern] was going to be the one who stood up in the UN last year and said, 'It's not me too, it's we too, we need to culturally change' and then what we've found is within her own organisation that she leads, victims being treated in the most appalling way.

"Yes, we all need to look at ourselves and how we deal with these things – not just in Parliament, but in our workplaces and in our society – and we have to do better."