National unaware of identities in alleged ‘inappropriate touching’ incident

By Talisa Kupenga

The National Party says it doesn't know the identity of the male young national member a teenage woman claims inappropriately touched her. The woman's identity is also unknown.

The alleged incident took place last week and is under investigation by police.

Party leader Simon Bridges says, "I learned about it late last week I sought assurances that everything had been handled and dealt with appropriately.  It seems clear to me it has."

According to Newsroom, the alleged incident involving a 17-year old woman happened at another location after the function at Auckland’s Brew on Quay bar.
National members Simeon Brown and Andrew Bayly were at the get-together.

Bayly says, "It was quite subdued, most of us there just thanking the young Nats for what they're doing. [It was] very low-key."

Brown says, "I left at about 8pm.  I didn't see anything of any concern but it is with police."

Party president Peter Goodfellow says National does not know the identity of those involved and a complaint had not been lodged with the party.

"We can't ban people unless we know who they are so you have to go step by step and you have to give them the opportunity to put their case.  We're not the judge and jury- this is a matter for the police."

The alleged incident comes while an internal inquiry into the culture of the National Party is pending, triggered by harassment allegations made by women against former National MP Jami-Lee Ross.  The findings were expected before December.

On Tuesday afternoon Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard announced an independent external review to examine bullying and harassment in parliament.

“Bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace.” Mallard says.

The review will look to establish if bullying or harassment has occurred and the nature and extent of the behaviour.

The announcement follows an incident where Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri allegedly grabbed a former staffer by the arm.  Whaitiri contests aspects of the incident but it saw her demotion as a minister.

Independent external reviewer Debbie Francis, who has worked on similar projects with organisations like the New Zealand Defence Force, will be carrying out the investigation.