I stand by my integrity - Jacinda Ardern

The AM Show 17/09/2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is refusing to rule out more heads rolling over the Labour Party sexual assault allegations scandal.

On Monday, Ardern revealed the actions she was implementing in response to allegations a Labour Party staffer sexually assaulted a party volunteer. 

Maria Dew QC will conduct a review into the sexual assault allegations, while a second independent reviewer will consider if the party acted appropriately in its handling of complaints as well as what complaints the party was aware of. 

The chair of the panel who investigated complaints earlier this year denies hearing sexual assault allegations - something contested by one of the complainants.

Ardern now wants to wait until those reviews report back before taking further action. Already, Labour Party President Nigel Haworth has resigned, as well the alleged offender.

Asked by The AM Show host Duncan Garner whether more heads will roll, Ardern said: "I will wait till I get those reports back and then I will act on that."

"Obviously, we have seen some actions as a result of what has happened to date, but I will reserve my judgements until I get those final reports."

Despite widespread media coverage of sexual assault allegations against the staffer - beginning with an August 5 story from Newshub - Ardern maintains she never knew of the allegations until last week.

She says she asked the party in August if those complaints existed but was told they didn't. 

Ardern has been criticised for not asking further questions - especially while at the same time championing the #MeToo campaign - but she's standing by her actions. 

"I have asked questions… now MeToo is also about accountability. I am fronting on this, leading on this, and moving us forward.

"I believe I have acted in every stage as the person you would expect me to… I stand by my integrity."

Complainants say Finance Minister Grant Robertson was told in person about the sexual assault allegations on June 30 at an event where the Prime Minister was also in attendance. 

However, he's now not wanting to go into detail about what he knew, just saying he feels comfortable with his actions

[Grant Robertson] has said consistently that in answering some of these questions, it risks bringing in the privacy of some of these complainants," Ardern told The AM Show on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister said the decision to keep the Maria Dew review terms of reference secret was at the request of complainants. She said she would have been happy to release them. 

"No qualms from me there, but obviously we sought the view of the complainants and their preference were that they wouldn't be," she said.

"The alleged individual involved also expressed the same view but obviously the complainants, that was obviously a big issue for them.

"The QC said she would rather just deal with the complaints and deal directly with the complainants on investigating that rather than looking into the Labour Party's process. That is fair enough."

Ardern admitted how the party had dealt with complaints up to this point had not been up to standard, but believed the actions revealed on Monday were backed by the complainants. 

"There is no question best practise has not been applied here at all. Labour Party needs to take responsibility for that, that is why this is playing out publicly now," she said.

"I can only act on what I know. I know enough now to do what I am doing, which is to bring in a process for these complainants and to help them be heard, and from everything I have seen from them, this is what they're asking for."