NZ Speaker fears a sexual predator is working in Parliament
WELLINGTON : The lawmaker in charge of New Zealand's Parliament said yesterday he fears a rapist is stalking the building's corridors, after an inquiry exposed the toxic work culture the workers endure.
Speaker Trevor Mallard said he was disturbed by the findings of the independent inquiry, which said bullying, harassment and other abusive conduct was rife in the parliamentary precincts.
The most serious accusations concerned three sexual assault allegations against an unnamed man, which the report said "appeared to be part of a multi-year pattern of predatory behaviour".
Mr Mallard, who is responsible for administering the Parliament, said such behaviour amounted to rape.
"We're talking about serious sexual assault. Well, for me, that's rape," he told Radio New Zealand.
"Reading the report carefully, I get the sense that the man is still on the premises."
Mr Mallard described the situation as "intolerable" but said he could not go to police as all submissions to the inquiry were made on the basis that they would be kept strictly confidential.
He said he hoped the women involved would contact police directly and would receive support from rape counselling services.
There are 120 MPs in the Parliament, but the number of people working in the complex swells to the thousands when advisers, bureaucrats, media and security are taken into account.
The five-month inquiry by workplace consultant Debbie Francis was called after allegations against lawmakers from both sides of politics, including that a minister physically attacked a press secretary who she blamed for missing an appointment.
Ms Francis found parliament was a high-pressure, insular environment where unacceptable conduct was too often tolerated.
In a 120-page report released on Tuesday, she said there was a reluctance to hold MPs accountable over bullying behaviour, even though some were regarded as serial offenders.- AFP
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