'I back her': Simon Bridges on Maggie Barry bullying claims

by RNZ / 03 December, 2018

MP Maggie Barry has been embroiled in bullying claims. Photo / Rebekah Parsons-King

National leader Simon Bridges has backed embattled MP Maggie Barry after fresh details of bullying parliamentary staff emerged, and insisted his party has a good employment culture.

Mr Bridges told Morning Report he believed the North Shore MP's denials of bullying of former staff members and pointed out the Parliamentary Services had cleared her of any wrongdoing.

The Herald on Sunday, however, revealed more detail yesterday on the bullying allegations against the North Shore MP.

The newspaper detailed how Ms Barry joked about a staff member's appearance at a public event and instructed him to keep a file on a political opponent.

Recordings of her talking about officials and other staff were also obtained by the paper.

Ms Barry had been accused of swearing at staff, discussing her staff's sexuality in the office and asking them to do National Party work in the office, which was against the law.

Mr Bridges said the new details were an employment matter so he did not want to go into details. However, he said he backed the "hard-working" MP and believed her denials of bullying.

"I've talked to Maggie Barry about these matters, but ultimately it's an employment matter ... what's really important is she denies the allegations and the investigation by Parliamentary Services, independent from the National Party, has made no finding of bullying or harassment," he said.

"So I fall back on what I know about Maggie Barry, which is that is she a hard worker, working effectively as a member of Parliament and I back her."

He said using parliamentary staff to do National Party work had been a "grey area".

Last week, Parliamentary Speaker Trevor Mallard announced an independent review of bullying and harassment at Parliament.

Mr Bridges said the party had a good working culture and he wouldn't be drawn on how many National MPs had been accused of bullying.

"I believe we have a good culture. I know that people come to National in the morning wanting to be there and are dedicated to the cause we have got," he said.

"But as we've talked about before with the Jami-Lee Ross matter, I went to Parliamentary Services, I talked to the general manager because I don't want to want to be complacent about this stuff.

"I want to make sure we've got a working environment where workers feel absolutely confident to stand up and complain and feel safe doing so."

Further details about the claims made against Ms Barry were outlined in a document by the Parliamentary Service.

The Parliamentary Service manager, which employs staff who work for MPs, was told Barry made demeaning comments about some staff in the presence of others.

Those included allegations that she said the former staffer's moustache "was so 70s and had to go".

On another occasion, Ms Barry is alleged to have told the audience at a retirement village in Northcote they could get a handout from "the man down the back dressed like the Great Gatsby" - referring to the staffer.

The former employee also claimed Ms Barry asked that files be kept on political opponents, including Miriam Clements, a Logic Party member who contested North Shore, whom Ms Barry allegedly referred to as "that crazy woman".

Mr Bridges also said he was not surprised that a poll asking who people wanted to be prime minister has him stuck on only 7 per cent.

The latest One News Colmar Brunton Poll showed Mr Bridges' fellow National MP Judith Collins had gained popularity as a potential leader, rising to 6 per cent.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is still by far the most popular preferred leader, on 39 per cent.

Mr Bridges said the most important thing was support for the party as a whole had risen to 46 per cent, putting National ahead of Labour, on 43 per cent.

 

This article was originally published by RNZ.

Latest

Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for kids
105028 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for…

by Ann Packer

A telegraph “boy”, heroic animals and even shell-shock make for engaging reads for children.

Read more
Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of restoring NZ's lighthouses
104978 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of res…

by Fiona Terry

Ensuring lighthouses stay “shipshape” isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

Read more
The former major reuniting service medals with their rightful owners
105015 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

The former major reuniting service medals with the…

by Fiona Terry

Service medals are being reunited with their rightful owners thanks to former major Ian Martyn and his determined research.

Read more
PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of social media for terrorism
104952 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Politics

PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of soc…

by Noted

A meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’.

Read more
Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story from tedium
104942 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story…

by James Robins

The fictionalised account of a British woman who spied for the Soviet Union is stiflingly quaint.

Read more
What to watch on TV this Anzac Day
104749 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Television

What to watch on TV this Anzac Day

by Fiona Rae

Māori TV once again devotes the day to Anzac programming, including a live broadcast from Gallipoli.

Read more
Twist in the tale: Why Margaret Mahy changed the end of her classic debut
104490 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Books

Twist in the tale: Why Margaret Mahy changed the e…

by Sally Blundell

The two different endings of the beloved A Lion in the Meadow still provoke debate. So which is better, the 1969 original or the later, kinder one?

Read more
Mapping the second brain: The latest science on the effect of your gut bacteria
104884 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Health

Mapping the second brain: The latest science on th…

by Donna Chisholm

Most of us have heard the five-plus-a-day message for fruit and vegetables. But new research into gut health suggests that advice may need tweaking.

Read more