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Speaker taking 'appropriate steps' over claim a rapist is working at Parliament - Jacinda Ardern

The Prime Minister says the Speaker is taking "appropriate steps" to ensure Parliament is a safe place to work, after he said a rapist could still be working at Parliament. 

A report into bullying and harassment in Parliament released yesterday found cases of alleged sexual assault, three of those described as "extremely serious and some appeared to be part of a multi-year pattern of predatory behaviour".

"This morning when I was advised of some of the statements the Speaker made around very serious allegations of sexual assault on this precinct, I sought to immediately meet with the Speaker, primarily to seek assurances this precinct was safe," Jacinda Ardern told media today. 

Mr Mallard told TVNZ1's Breakfast today it was clear the three cases were in the "rape category". Host John Campbell asked Mr Mallard if that means there's a chance the offender or offenders are still in Parliament, to which he replied, "yes".

Ms Ardern said a meeting with all party leaders was held, with Mr Mallard giving assurances he was seeking to ensure a safe working environment. 

It comes after National's Paula Bennett told media this morning there was a "duty of care to people working in this place that police are involved immediately".

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    It comes after Speaker Trevor Mallard said earlier today he believes an alleged rapist still works at Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS

    "There are people here feeling unsafe, uncomfortable and nervous at the moment, particularly after the Speaker's comments this morning."

    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told media he understood a perpetrator was "not a parliamentarian and it is not a parliamentary staffer".

    "So all the parties are clear on this matter."

    Asked what it was based on, Mr Peters said, "it's based on going and finding out, because I wasn't prepared to hear what I heard this morning, either form the Speaker or for that matter, the deputy Speaker".

    This morning, 1 NEWS asked MPs their reaction to the Speaker's comments.

    Labour Kiri Allan: "It’s not acceptable in any environment, in any place in New Zealand or anywhere if that conduct is occurring." 

    National Nikki Kaye: "The Speaker's comments are very, very concerning and I think obviously we want to understand more how he's made those comments. We've got to get to the bottom of what exactly lies beneath those comments."

    Green Chlöe Swarbrick: "I think we need to be acting, pretty damn quickly to sort things out here."

    Labour Kieran McAnulty: "It's hugely concerning, no one wants to be in a workplace where there's these sorts of allegations. They're serious and they're criminal. I hope the appropriate agencies get involved, if that's what the victims want."

    Labour Willow Jean Prime: "It's not acceptable that rape occurs in any workplace. I think the report has brought these matters to light, I hope it's something the victim, victims, have confidence to take up with the police because that is the appropriate place for when there's actually been a breach of the law."

    NZ First Fletcher Tabuteau: "That's absolutely horrifying. First time I've heard it. It's not acceptable, anywhere, especially here."  

    Labour Deborah Russell: "I'm concerned for our younger staff members but I'm sure Trevor [Mallard] will be looking into that."

    National Lawrence Yule: "If that's true and if Trevor believes that he needs to do something about that, that's horrendous."

    ACT David Seymour: "The prospect of there being a rapist at large at this building makes me feel icky and disgusting, I think it's a matter for the police and I hope if that's what happened by this inquiry then the person is brought to justice."

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      The prime minister says regardless of their decision the Government needs to ensure Parliament is a "safe place to work". Source: 1 NEWS