Mike:

Now, I know that you… I know what you announced yesterday and I know what you want to talk about this morning and I… can we just preface all of this – there’s just a couple of questions I’ve got that don’t appear to have been answered by you – so if we can focus on those, that would be good.

One of them, is that I told you on this programme on the 6th of August there was a sexual assault complaint, ahh… from that time until last Monday you appear not to have known that that was the case. Why not?

Ardern:

(Sucks in breath) Ahh… again, just for the sake of clarity here, Mike, there’s obviously still contested information in…in facts in this case, which is why I’ve… I’ve created now a space where complainants can ultimately be heard. But also, we’ll look at ourselves and what the Labour Party knew and what it should have been doing ahh… in light of the information it had.

For the sake of ah… answering the question you’ve just asked me though, we’ve been very clear on this and what was published in the Spinoff, the claim that someone, ah, went to the Labour Party and claimed that they had been um… ahh… sexually assaulted are very serious allegations documented there I was never aware of that. Ah… of course, there were ah… some five weeks prior, ah, many reporting ah… around ah… whether or not ah… issues of ah… ah… a sexual nature or of a serious allegations, ah, were reported in the media um… we’ve been very open about that point in time, where that was raised and I asked questions directly of the Labour party um… made it very clear that if this was what the Labour Party was being told they should not be investigating. Got answers from them that I have to say in hindsight I was… am not satisfied with, but we brought in a QC at that point in time…

Mike:

Okay.

Ardern:

…because it was clear at that point there were clear failings in what was happening.

Mike:

So, the image that you’ve Laboured under for the past week by most of the media that you somehow don’t indulge in any form of media and you claim last Monday this was a revelation. What you are now explaining to us is that the Spinoff highly detailed account is the first literal account that you saw as opposed to the broad-based understanding there was a sexual assault allegation.

Ardern:

Actually… actually… Mike, I’ve probably done some eight or nine stand-ups on this and I have been consistent on that. Um… this is somethink I answered… on the day itself, the day itself it was published. This is somethink I’ve been very clear on right from the beginning.

The issue now, Mike, is that we are going back and forth on contested information that is not taking us any closer to (a) having the complainants heard; (b) making sure that there is greater clarity around what the Labour Party knew and how it dealt with this. You will have seen that yesterday we still have members of the Labour Party contesting that.

Mike:

Yep.

Ardern:

We need to get to a point of clarity. What I set out yesterday is a plan to do that.

Mike:

If it’s found that you knew about this before you said you did, would you resign?

Ardern:

Ah… again Mike, that’s… that’s not even an issue because I know what I know. I know what I know ahh… and I’ve been very clear on that and I have absolutely no concern with us being public with the information and the findings of what we will have a third party to look into. Um… because I’ve been absolutely clear all the way through on this and the one point, I’d ask you, Mike, why wouldn’t I act on somethink that serious?

Mike:

Well, that’s the question everybody’s asking because you didn’t.

Ardern:

I’ve… actually… I’ve just contested that, Mike, but again we can continue, we can go around in circles on this or we can actually have a process in place that gets to the bottom of it and that gives us clarity, that doesn’t just rely on a ‘he said she said’.

Mike:

If you say you’ve been clear, Grant Robertson hasn’t, why hasn’t he?

Ardern:

(Sucks in breath) He’s stated all the way through when he’s been asked questions on this that he doesn’t wish to compromise the privacy of the individuals involved or ultimately, as I’ve just said, get into contesting some of the information in the public domain.

We’ve set up a… we’ve set up a process now Mike, and we’re going to stick to that.

Mike:

Has he told you what he knows?

Ardern:

Again… as I’ve said, I don’t want to get into this ongoing contesting of facts between complainants and the Labour Party. I just want a process that’s going to bring some clarity and ultimately one that puts complainants at the centre. Everyone has to acknowledge here what is happening in the public domain for complainants is very far from best practice. It’s about as far as you could be. We need to start bringing this back to what was ultimately the cause, and that is some serious allegations that need to be investigated.

Mike:

If the QC’s report find Grant Robertson knew something and you didn’t do something, is that a… is that a crime that you would expect a resignation from?

Ardern:

The QC is ahh… looking into the complaints and… ahh… ahh…

Mike:

Who’s looking into what Grant Robertson…

Ardern:

Just to be clear we acknowledge we need to create a separate investigation of what the Labour Party knew. We’ve done that. I’m bringing in a third party to do that.

Mike:

Who’s the third party?

Ardern:

Well, I have to settle on a name that both complainants ahh… and of course the party’s happy with. So, we will be resolving that over the next few days. Ah… originally, of course, we already had the Labour Party’s own lawyer looking at the process it undertook. We…

Mike:

Was that wise?

Ardern:

Mike, no, in my view… obviously that’s why we are bringing in a third party. Um… but… ahh… um… Grant Robertson has said he will absolutely fully participate ahh… in any questions that may wish to be asked um… through that process.

Mike:

So, I go back to the question. If he or you are found wanting in this will either of you resign?

Ardern:

That will not be the case. I have always said…

Mike:

How do you know that? Why have an investigation if you know the outcome?

Ardern:

Ahh… because I know. Ahh…

Mike:

You know what Grant knows?

Ardern:

Um… Mike, it’s… you’re not going to have to rely on us. We’ve put in place a process that we will make fully transparent.

Mike:

Well is it a process? You’ve just given us the outcome of the process.

Ardern:

Of course, I am going to continue to stand by my actions (chuckles) Mike, you’d expect me to.

Mike:

But you are not answering on Grant Robertson. Robertson won’t answer. You won’t answer on behalf of Grant Robertson, why not?

Ardern:

Yes, I have. And the fact that he is participating fully and will be open in answering any questions for that third-party review should also answer that question.

Mike:

And if he is found wanting, does he resign? And if you are found wanting, do you resign?

Ardern:

Again, Mike, I… I know the undertakings I have made in this case. I stand by all of them and we will be making public that final review and ahh…

Mike:

Well, you won’t. Won’t you be making it all public?

Jacinda:

Yes.

Mike:

Because yesterday I… I heard a whole lot of riders.

Jacinda:

The only… the only rider I’ve given is, as you would expect Mike, these are obviously um… ahh… involved ahh… details that will be quite private to some of the complainants so of course we need to keep that in mind.

Mike:

Do you still believe the complainant?

Jacinda:

(Sucks in breath) I’ve always said to take a victim-centred approach, and you’d expect that from me. Ahh… that hasn’t been what’s happened in the process to date though so that’s what I am trying to right.

Mike:

Given what Simon Mitchell said yesterday and what Haworth’s already said, where’s the third member of the group and what… what have they got to say? And do you know what they’ve got to say if they did say anything, as to whether there was a sexual assault allegation?

Jacinda:

So, you are going to have to explain that question to me again, sorry.

Mike:

The person who’s the party president at the moment, were they part of the panel?

Jacinda:

No. Ahh… oh sorry, the president… there is… technically we only have an acting senior…

Mike:

That’s what I’m saying. Was she part of the panel originally?

Jacinda:

Again, that’s in… in the public domain ahh… but that is now somethink of course that is immaterial to what I am trying to set out here. We’ve got a process in place; I am speaking to it.

Mike:
Yeah, I’m just asking, does she think there was a sexual assault allegation or was she another one that says there wasn’t one in the first place?

Jacinda:

Again, Mike, this has been contested by the Labour Party and I don’t want to continue to get into a “he said, she said”. The Labour Party has always contested some of what’s been in the public domain. I’ve now set out a process so we do not have to continue to have this heard publicly. We actually have given the complainants a place to do it in a way that’s appropriate.

Mike:

Your staffer who resigned, was he paid out?

Jacinda:

(Sucks in breath) I accepted a resignation, ultimately beyond that, that’s a matter for parliamentary services which unfortunately I am not involved in. Also, it’s an employment matter.

Mike:

And if he was found wanting in these investigations would that pay out be brought into question?

Jacinda:

I… again that is… obviously ahh… not some think that I am going to traverse. It’s an employment matter for parliamentary services. But I do want to say, Mike, ahh… that actually we do need a process here that allows yes, the complainants to be heard, but also the accused. I know, given the number of interviews I’ve had with you before that will be a principle that will be important to you as well.

Mike:

Having said that, if he is found wanting, this bloke who resigned, and he was paid out, that will be a question as to whether that money…

Jacinda:

Well actually, ultimately Mike, if that’s… if that is the result of the QC, actually I would want that to go to the police. That’s where these things…

Mike:

Well, we all wanted it to go to the police but the…. but it hasn’t. And that’s at the… that’s at the doorstep of the complainant isn’t it?

Jacinda:

It is ultimately their call. It is, you’re right. And they’ve made that decision not to, to date. So, we are trying to create a process that is alternative to that. But of course, it was always in my preference… one thing I can tell you is that it shou… where it cannot be dealt with is the Labour Party.

Mike:

Kelvin Davis in the house speaking Te Reo last week said this whole thing’s been driven by rumour and gossip. Do you back him up on that?

Jacinda:

Ahh… again I… I… I don’t think that’s necessarily a fair and… I’m not the person to be asking… in Te Reo…

Mike:

That’s precisely what he said.

Jacinda:

No… no it isn’t.

Mike:

Well, we asked Shane Jones and this is what he said it was gossip. The word he used was gossip.

Jacinda:

I’ve also been told that the words can also mean allegation so I don’t want to get into um, ahh… a discussion here on something that I can’t fully contest because my Te Reo is… is not in a place where I can…

Mike:

All right. Winston Peters was on this station yesterday in English and he said it’s a disgraceful orgy of speculation and innuendo. Is it?

Jacinda:

That is… that is… again that is a matter for ministers to… Peters’ interpretation of it…

Mike:

Well, what would your interpretation of his interpretation be?

Jacinda:

My job is to get finally, to the bottom of this issue in a way that allows complainants to be heard. That’s what I set out yesterday, Mike, and what I’m going to stick to.

Mike:

Is there a time frame on any of this?

Jacinda:

The QC originally gave me a suggestion ahh… or… or… gave the party a suggestion ah… of four weeks. I’m… I’m a bit hesitant on that because since then I believe ahh… the terms of reference might have changed so um… my… my expectation is that it’ll probably be more than that. Perhaps maybe… perhaps maybe seven or eight.

Mike:

Third party?

Jacinda:

Third party will ultimately still want someone there. That I believe could be done more quickly than that because of course, as I’ve mentioned, the Labour Party already started a process of looking at the evidence that it had received and the process that looked into that is halfway done. That’ll be handed over to that third-party reviewer though.