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Labour MP Gaurav Sharma unleashes fresh allegations of misuse of taxpayer funds and incompetent staff

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Dr Gaurav Sharma is a first-term MP for Labour. Photo / Getty Images

Backbench MP Dr Gaurav Sharma has published a fresh broadside attack against his own caucus on social media, alleging he was bullied by senior members of the Labour Party.

The Hamilton West member also alleged an MP and a staffer were misusing taxpayer funds.

Tonight’s claims come after the first-term politician and Fulbright Scholar wrote a column in the NZ Herald yesterday, in which he said he was the victim of bullying.

However, a former staffer told the Herald it was Sharma who was “controlling” and had reduced them to tears, while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier today that Labour “dispute the allegations”.

Labour’s whip Duncan Webb and Parliamentary Service have also said they have been working with Sharma on “employment matters”.

Responding to tonight’s allegations, Webb again said Labour disputes Sharma’s version of events and reiterated there “have been ongoing issues between Gaurav and some of his staff”.

“The Labour whips have been working alongside the Parliamentary Services to address [that]. We believe that has been done so appropriately,” Webb said.

A Labour spokesperson also reiterated that the party disputes Sharma’s allegations.

“As previously stated there have been ongoing issues between Gaurav and some of his staff that his [social media] post provides further confirmation of.”

In his lengthy social media post, Sharma alluded to growing frustration with the Labour Party after he claims he was not taken seriously after raising concerns about underperforming staff and wider issues in the party.

“I stand by my claims that I have been subjected to ongoing bullying by the Parliamentary Service and the Labour Whips and none of my concerns have been investigated,” he said.

Sharma also said he has fallen into a cycle of depression and had begun to contemplate suicide.

Labour Party backbench MP Gaurav Sharma, left, has taken to social media tonight with more allegations. Photo / File
Labour Party backbench MP Gaurav Sharma, left, has taken to social media tonight with more allegations. Photo / File

Ardern said Sharma was still “valued” by Labour.

“While we dispute the allegations he has made, Gaurav is a valued member of the team, and we want to make sure he is getting the support he needs,” she said. Ardern did not address the specific allegations.

Sharma said that in February last year he had an “underperforming staff member”. He said he collected “hundreds” of pages of documentation to prove this, but is yet to disclose any publicly.

Instead of “listening” to his “concerns” about the staff member, Sharma claimed, people in the Labour Party tried to bring him “into disrepute” and rein him in.

“I sat in meetings after meetings being told I was doing a terrible job and that 9/10 times the MP is a bully so we refuse to listen to anything you have to say,” he claims.

Sharma said he wrote “numerous” emails to Parliamentary Services, the official employer of Parliamentary staff, but he alleges they told him to work harder.

“[I]f you are staying up and working until 3am, you should work until 5am to make up for your staff’s incompetence.”

He alleged staff were “drunk at work, not showing up to work, being sent on leave without any notice or approval and a significant wastage of taxpayer’s money”.

“I had hundreds of pages to prove that my staff wasn’t doing the work they were hired to do and it affected my ability to provide services to my constituents but I was never listened to,” Sharma said.

Sharma claims he was shouted at and “degraded” in front of other members of Labour’s caucus.

In a separate allegation, Sharma said a Labour MP and Parliamentary staffer who was also a Labour member were “misusing taxpayer’s money”.

Instead of looking into the matter, he said Parliamentary Services forwarded his concerns back to people in the Labour Party.

Sharma said he was told he should be “ashamed” of himself for speaking out.

Instead of treating the allegations seriously, Sharma claims he was told: “‘The only way this country can succeed is if Labour is in government. Government means Labour. So the Party comes first and foremost before the country’.”

“The matter was never looked into and everything was hushed,” Sharma said.

“Slowly I fell into a cycle of stress, depression and lack of hope as I found myself stuck. I remember one of my former patients sending me very kind message on World Mental Health Day about how I had helped her as a doctor a while ago.

“I thought to myself about how despite listening to and assisting many of my constituents with bullying and harassment issues, I had to put a bold face up as I struggled everyday with the thought of contemplating suicide,” he said.

Eventually, Sharma claims he raised his concerns about bullying with the Prime Minister’s Office.

“I took with me hundreds of pages of evidence – emails, timelines, issues etc to explain my case,” he said.

Sharma said he engaged a lawyer to make his case.

“I was open about this to the Parliamentary Services and the Labour Whips from the moment I hired the lawyer but they thought I was bluffing,” he said.

At a meeting yesterday, Sharma claimed Labour laughed in his face. He said this meeting prompted him to go public with his concerns in his column.

“[They] laugh on my face saying in front of my lawyer ‘how will you even sue us, you have no legal rights’ while repeatedly refusing to investigate anything I have said or investigate me for any issue,” he said.

Webb, who attended yesterday’s meeting, said the whip’s office had at all times “acted in good faith and sought to work constructively with Gaurav and the Parliamentary Service to ensure he has good support available to address issues between him and his staff”.

“It recently paused hiring with the intention of providing further assistance before more staff were hired into his office,” Webb said.

“This seemed prudent. The Parliamentary Service and I met with Gaurav in good faith to progress these issues as recently as yesterday, he was fully represented at that meeting. We are mindful these are ongoing relationships, so we must respect [the] individual’s privacy, but we will continue to seek a resolution with Gaurav in the coming weeks.”

Where to get help:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234 (available 24/7)
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (12pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or text 4202 (available 24/7)
Anxiety helpline: 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY) (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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