Statement on The Speaker and Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Any investigation of claims of sexual assault should be in a manner that takes a victim-centric approach. It also needs to include principles of natural justice for the person allegations are made against. 

“I have spoken with The Speaker this morning. He retains my overall confidence, however I have expressed serious concerns to him about the manner in which he conducted himself in the House last night. It did not meet the standards I expect. Nor do I consider it to have met the needs of the victim in this situation. The Speaker acknowledges he did not meet his own standards either.

“I also believe the behaviour of opposition members was inappropriate. Issues of this serious nature should not be litigated in Parliament in such a manner. It was wrong.

“Parliament rightly needs to set standard for others to follow. The Francis Review and its recommendations, including the introduction of specific Behavioural Standards for all who support the work of Parliament, offer a blueprint for best practice and I believe Parliament should be focused on that.

“Today I am writing to The Speaker and Deputy and Assistant Speakers asking them to reconvene the cross-party working group to consider how the Behavioural Standards can be given practical effect when Members of Parliament are dealing with sensitive staff conduct matters such as sexual assault.

“Parliament must continue to maintain its right to hold Government Ministers and the Speaker to account for actions. However, this can be done in a robust and appropriate manner.

“I urge all parties and MPs to adopt a bipartisan approach to ensure Parliament is a good and safe place for staff to work,” Jacinda Ardern said.