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'We failed' - Ardern announces separate inquiry into whether Labour acted appropriately after complaint against staffer

The Prime Minister says she is addressing mistakes over the Labour Party staffer investigation - initiating a separate inquiry in addition to a QC report to look solely into whether the party acted appropriately. 

"There are no excuses for the handling of the complaints by the Labour Party and I will offer none," Jacinda Ardern said today. "To do so, risks minimising the seriousness of the allegations that have been made."

Earlier this year, Labour began investigating after complaints were made against a staffer. An investigation panel was set up by Labour's highest governing body, the NZ Council. Three months later, the staffer was cleared.

"The Labour Party has not dealt with these complaints adequately or appropriately. While the party has continued to maintain it was not in receipt of the complaints that have since been published in the media, that is secondary to the fact that the complaints made to the party were of significant concern and needed to be heard in a timely way."

Terms of reference for the QC investigation have been agreed, alongside the complainants. Ms Ardern said the complainants and respondent asked for it not to be released. 

QC Maria Dew requested to "hear the substance, not whether Labour acted appropriately". Her investigation is to solely focus on complainants and their complaints. 

The investigation into Labour's actions and process is to be split apart from the QC report, with Labour's lawyers Kensington Swan to hand over a report on whether the party acted appropriately to an independent reviewer. 

They will then establish a statement of facts around the party process and what complaints were received.

An experienced victim advocate is to be appointed to look at those findings and work with Labour on prevention, training and victim centred processes. 

The Prime Minister is to meet with the complainants and was being assisted by two survivor advocates.

Labour MP Poto Williams will lead work to establish "culture change" in the Labour Party. 

"Her work will be informed by everything we will learn over the four to eight weeks."

Ms Ardern said there was a duty of care "and we failed in it". 

"If this can happen in my party... then this can happen anywhere."

"Mistakes have been made, it is now my job to address that - yes, for the Labour Party, but also to take the lessons that have been learned and ask what we can do to assist other workplaces, training institutions, organisations and others to do the same."

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The Prime Minister said that the “complaints made to the party were of significant concern and needed to be heard in a timely way”. Source: 1 NEWS