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Sharma labels McAnulty a bully

Gaurav Sharma. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Kieran McAnulty. PHOTO/FILE

Labour Party MP Gaurav Sharma has come out swinging in a scathing social media post labelling Kieran McAnulty a bully and accusing the Wairarapa MP of gaslighting and derogatory behaviour.

The 2600-word diatribe provided a year and a half timeline of interactions with Parliamentary Services and Labour Party Whips, from whom he claimed to have faced bullying and harassment from “day zero”.

The post came after an opinion piece in The New Zealand Herald on Thursday where Sharma alleged bullying was rampant within the Labour Party, notably the Whips office, and bad behaviour was “promoted and facilitated” by Parliamentary Services, the administrative branch of Parliament.

McAnulty, chief whip until recently, said he and the Labour Party disputed the allegations.

At the centre of Sharma’s claims were his frustration with an underperforming staff member, accusations of misuse of taxpayers’ money, and bullying.

“Issues I raised involved staff being drunk at work, not showing up to work, being sent on leave without any notice or approval, and a significant wastage of taxpayers’ money.”

Sharma said he had “hundreds of pages” of documentation to support his claims, but his concerns were dismissed.

“Instead of listening to my concerns, this was actively turned into a major project by the Labour Party Whips to bring me into disrepute and to rein me in.”

He singled out McAnulty as the “main bully”.

“Who kept gaslighting me, shouting at me, degrading me in front of caucus members and other attendees at events and telling me that I was a terrible MP.”

Sharma cited a an incident with McAnulty during the America’s Cup, where he claimed the Wairarapa MP had asked him to a meeting to discuss Sharma’s issues with his staff.

“When I got there, I was advised that he had to be in an important meeting so couldn’t make it.

“I spent close to two hours sitting with Kieran McAnulty’s staff in his office being told how terrible a manager I was, with no right of reply.

“But what was most sickening was that when I came out, I saw photos of him drinking and celebrating the America’s Cup final while I sat in his office like a school kid at the headmaster’s office.”

Sharma claimed his staffing issues continued, and his outspoken stance on squandering taxpayers’ money led to further bullying and a hiring freeze.

“Slowly, I fell into a cycle of stress, depression and lack of hope as I found myself stuck.”

He said the presence of his lawyer in a meeting with the Labour Party Whips and Parliamentary Services last week changed the discussion.

“Suddenly, the conversation in the room was about moving forward.”

Sharma said the timing of his allegations was not linked to the headlines about bullying by National Party MP Sam Uffindell.

“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.”

However, his opinion-editorial piece prompted a former staffer to come forward and accuse the Hamilton West MP of bullying himself.

Sharma did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday and is yet to produce evidence to back up his claims.

McAnulty said the Labour Party disputed Sharma’s allegations.

“As the Prime Minister said, there have been ongoing issues between Gaurav and some of his staff that I can’t get into.

“As the chief whip at the time, my office was working alongside Parliamentary Services to resolve the staffing issues Gaurav confirmed in his Facebook post.

“It was my job as whip to ensure Labour MPs treated their staff well.

“I believe I acted appropriately and was simply doing my job to address staff concerns.”

In a statement issued late on Friday, chief whip Duncan Webb said his office became aware of staffing issues within Sharma’s office a year ago and had been working with Sharma to address them.

He said hiring into Sharma’s office had been paused to provide “further assistance”.

The Prime Minister’s office was approached for comment about Sharma’s allegations of bullying yesterday but had not responded at the time of publication.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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