Labour Party Caucus expels rebel MP Gaurav Sharma

Member of Parliament Dr Gaurav Sharma entering Parliament earlier today (RNZ Photo by Dreaver)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 23, 2022

After a week of unsubstantiated accusations and continuous press statements, Labour’s rebel Member of Parliament Dr Gaurav Sharma finally met his political fate of expulsion.

The Labour Party Caucus met this morning in Parliament Building in Wellington and overwhelmingly voted to remove the MP from their midst.

Dr Sharma is an elected Member of Parliament from Hamilton West and hence has the right to retain the seat. He will now sit as an Independent Member in the Debating Chamber, some like the past MPs, the most recent of who was Jami-Lee Ross (of National Party). He will also have the right to attend Select Committee meetings.

Following the expulsion, the Labour Caucus referred the matter to the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party for further disciplinary action if any required. The Council is the supreme decision-making body of the Party.

Mediation refused

Announcing the decision, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her Party was concerned when Dr Sharma went public over issues relating to staff about 12 days ago and that he refused the offer for mediation.

“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 is worth remembering that the root cause of this fallout was multiple members of Gaurav’s staff raising issues with his management,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that for more than a year, Labour Whips and the Parliamentary Service had sought to resolve these concerns with Dr Sharma. Instead of accepting the issues raised and taking steps to address them, he 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 that 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,” she said.

Unjustified behaviour

Ms Ardern said that while lessons will be learnt from the Gaurav Sharma episode, his behaviour was not justified.

She said that the decision to expel Dr Sharma from the Caucus ended the matter.

“Our focus remains on the significant issues that New Zealanders are grappling with and our responsibility to serve them – not the interests of an individual MP,” she Ardern said.

Radio New Zealand adds:

Labour MPs who arrived at Parliament today ahead of the Caucus meeting to vote on expelling Dr Sharma said they did not trust him. He was suspended from the Caucus last week for repeated breaches of trust.

Prior to the meeting, Dr Sharma said that he was not nervous but had not thought as far as what would happen if he was expelled.

“ I feel sorry that we are elected members of Parliament and our own voice is being silenced and if people cannot stand up for themselves, what job are they doing standing up for their constituents? Similarly, for the leadership of the Party, it is all talk. All the values they talk about at conferences, at Ivy League Universities, at 1 pm Covid briefings, but if you are not prepared to put your money where your mouth is, what is the point of talking about this?”

he said and called for an independent investigation.

“These MPs are still getting in touch with me and saying that they are the ones who have been bullied. So, maybe they do not trust the Party and the leadership; otherwise, why would they be contacting me still and talking to me about it?” Dr Sharma asked.

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