QUESTIONS THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF PARLIAMENT MUST ANSWER

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One Union has been asked to represent a victim of bullying in parliament. The union submitted questions to Mr Gonzalez-Montero in August. Instead of answering, he has lawyered up and gone missing in action. 

WE REQUEST SPEAKER RT HON TREVOR MALLARD DIRECT HIM TO FRONT UP

Mr Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, the Chief Executive of Parliamentary Services, is the legal employer of all staff at parliament. After an inquiry Nick Smith MP was found to have bullied a young staffer who was blameless. It was so serious Mr Smith resigned. 

Shockingly, despite promises, the victim’s contract was not renewed, and he has been left with legal bills. When One Union wrote to the chief executive, he lawyered up and now refuses to answer any questions. 

We ask the Speaker of the House Rt Hon Trevor Mallard direct him to do so. 

QUESTIONS THAT DEMAND ANSWERS

  • WAS THE VICTIM KNOWINGLY PLACED IN AN UNSAFE PLACE? 
  • It is claimed Nick Smith MP had a reputation of being a bully. Is this true? 
  • Because of this reputation, senior managers in Parliamentary Services (PS) raised concerns about appointing the victim to work with Smith. What steps were taken to have their concerns addressed?
  • Were any plans and training provided for the staffer to perform his role? If there weren’t any, why not? Was there any monitoring done at all? Why not? 
  • Why was the staffer told by senior managers to “put up” with Smith, and he would be rewarded with a better job after the election? Is this the norm? 

 

  • WAS THERE A HISTORY OF BULLYING? 
  • We understand many other staffers have resigned because of Smith’s behaviour. Is this true? How far back? 
  • What steps were taken by PS after these terminations or complaints?
  • Have any personal grievances or complaints been raised by any previous employees? If so, what were they and how many? Was any compensation or payments made to any former employees working with Smith? If so, how much and how many? 

 

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  • WHY DID THE CEO FEEL HE NEEDED TO MAKE PERSONAL PROMISES TO THE VICTIM? 
  • Did Gonzalez-Montero or any PS manager request the witness or victim formalise a complaint against Smith? What promises were made to them? 
  • Gonzalez-Montero summoned the victim to his office. He made assurances of protection to the victim. Why were they made, and what were they? Why were they not honoured? 

 

  • WHY DID THE INVESTIGATION DRAG ON? 
  • Why did the inquiry take over a year? Is that normal? What was the full cost of the report?
  • Could PS have initiated the investigation themselves after learning of the incident? What steps in the first week did PS take after hearing of the incident? Why did the victim and the witness have to put their careers on the line? 
  • National’s chief of staff and whips office were actively involved in the incident. Why didn’t they make a complaint? What role did they play in the investigation? 
  • Once the draft report was completed, why was there further weeks of delays? 

 

  • WHY IS THERE LEGAL MURKINESS?
  • Was the victim advised of his legal or support options? Why was he advised not to take a Personal Grievance? Why is the CEO now claiming he can’t take a PG? 
  • PS recommended a lawyer to the victim. How was that decision made? Is that normal? What payments were made to the lawyer? Why did they stop? 
  • Did Smith have legal advice? Did any parliament entity contribute to Smith’s legal costs? If so, who and how much?
  • What pastoral care and HR support was provided to the victim? If none, why not? 

 

  • WHY DID THE CEO REFUSE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT?
  • Was the victim and the witness told they were not to discuss the report and its findings? Was Smith told the same thing? Did PS advise what consequences were if there were breaches? What were they? What actions were taken against Smith for his public statements?
  • Some media were clearly briefed. The victim and the witness were publicly maligned. Why was the victim refused support by the chief executive? 
  • At this time the victim met with the CEO at a café, not his office. Is that normal? At that meeting the victim pleaded for a factual public statement to be released setting the record straight. The CEO refused. Why? 

 

  • WHERE IS THE REPORT? 
  • Why is the victim not provided a copy? Who has copies? 
  • Why is the report not released, given it was about a public matter and tax funded? 
  • PS has internal capacity for cases as ordinary as this. Why is a senior law partner dealing with it? What legal fees have been paid to this law firm? 

Once we have the answers, we can fairly assess the level of culpability of PS leadership. That then gives us the basis to determine what would be a fair outcome to restore the mana of the victim.


SIGN OUR PETITION TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF BULLIES IN PARLIAMENT

Matt McCarten is Union Director of One Union. 

Help us win justice for victims of exploitation and abuse in non-unionised workplaces. Go to www.oneunion.org.nz, or free phone 0800 368 000.

Report cases of mistreatment and unfairness, donate to our work and join us.

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. A report, a public matter, tax payer funded?
    The Taxpayers Union will be all over it, their press releases will be forthcoming. And it’ll be all over Kiwiblog.

  2. I guess the very simple answer is that there is a culture of bullying in Parliament that is accepted, has been accepted for years it seems and goes right to the top. Oh yes, and political manipulation. The meeting in the cafe sounds creepy and heavy. Those poor young staffers sure had it tough, thanks for shining a light in this and supporting them and hopefully making a change in the culture there and everywhere that this shit goes on, by revealing it and making it unacceptable.

  3. his class position and status will protect him….best case nothing happens, worst case retirement on full generous pension
    ….until they go to prison nowt will change…after all it’s supposed to work for car thieves and potheads….y’know the deterrence idea, let’s apply it to ministers and their administrative masters and see if it deters them from their criminality…..it’s worth a go.

  4. Looking at his employment history. He is best placed to answer all of those questions. Straight from school, straight in to a job at Parliament.
    So why doesn’t he front? Probably because he knows where the ‘body’s’ are all buried?

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