By Syed Mujeeb
Auckland: The Labour Caucus has voted to expel Dr Gaurav Sharma from caucus, effectively immediately.
The Caucus also voted to refer the matter to the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party for them to consider any further disciplinary action.
The decision means Dr Sharma will no longer receive support from the parliamentary party or have access to or participate in caucus in any way. He will have the right to attend any select committee, but will not be a member of one.
“Gaurav Sharma has been expelled for his repeated and calculated breaches of caucus rules over the past 12 days,” Labour Party Leader Jacinda Ardern said.
“When Gaurav went public about his staffing issues 12 days ago our response was one of concern. We attempted to offer support and find a way to resolve his concerns. We offered mediation and a pathway back for him.
“Despite providing an opportunity to resolve his issues and to rebuild trust he has repeatedly demonstrated that he no longer wishes to be a member of the caucus. His consistent and ongoing breach of the caucus rules has resulted in the complete loss of trust by his fellow Labour MPs.
“It’s worth remembering the root cause of this fallout was multiple members of Gaurav’s staff raising issues with his management.
“For over a year the Labour Whips and the Parliamentary Service have sought to resolve these concerns with Gaurav. Rather than accept the issues raised or the need to take steps to address them he has consistently contested the process.
“Labour and the Parliamentary Service would have been negligent if we had failed to act on the concerns that were raised by staff, but this example does highlight how difficult improving the situation for staff can be if an MP does not fully engage. We also believe the process was protracted.
“As a Labour team we remain committed to ensuring that Parliament is a positive place for our staff. We have however highlighted to the Speaker areas where we believe that the new procedures under the Francis Review could be improved, and asked that he consider whether these recent events could be a case study to help improve these processes.
“There are definitely things to be learned from this episode, but none of it justifies the recent behaviour of Gaurav.
“From Labour’s perspective, this decision now concludes this matter. Our focus remains on the significant issues New Zealanders are grappling with and our responsibility to serve them – not the interests of an individual MP,” Jacinda Ardern said.