Labour leader Chris Hipkins has distanced himself from former Labour MP Marja Lubeck after she posted to X, formerly Twitter, attacking the victims of alleged bullying by Labour MP Shanan Halbert.
Last night, former staff told Newshub Halbert was a bully, and that he was “manipulative”, “scheming”, and “a narcissist”.
This morning, Lubeck, who was a member of Labour’s caucus in the most recent term of Parliament but has now retired posted: “How about some fairness, some integrity. Accusations about an MP by anonymous accusers especially in an election campaign should not be used like that. It’s wrong. Just Stop”.
Lubeck did not respond to the Herald’s request to comment. The post has since been deleted.
The post suggested the accusers had partisan motivations and cut against Hipkins’ plea yesterday that accusers, should they wish, come forward and use the new process Parliament has enabled to deal with bullying.
“I don’t agree with that sentiment,” Hipkins said of the post.
“Parliament needs to take these kinds of complaints seriously, I certainly do, and so that is not my view. My view is that if people have concerns they can raise them anonymously and there is a mechanism through which they can do that.”
He said that his view was that if people had concerns they could come forward. Hipkins said that in the absence of a formal complaint “there is a limited amount that we can do”.
“If there are people who are concerned about any member of Parliament and their conduct towards staff we’ve now got an independent commissioner who can look into those concerns.”
Lubeck is not the only former Labour MP to make light of the allegations.
Former minister Clare Curran also posted dismissively “In an election campaign when accusations are made about an MP by anonymous accuser/s should this not ring alarm bells with journalists?”
Curran told the Herald she was “not privy to the facts other than what I read in a media article that referenced anonymous allegations. My comment applies in a general sense”.
The allegations were aired in a story by Newshub and date back more than a year.
Halbert told the Herald he had “good working relationships with staff both inside Parliament and in other roles I’ve held outside of Parliament. Occasionally employment issues arise in any workplace but I have always done my best to work through those professionally and appropriately [and] sought advice and support where required”.
“These issues have only been brought to my attention through the media today. I’ve never had a formal complaint raised against me.”
Hipkins today stood by Halbert’s assertion he had only been made aware of the allegations yesterday.
He said that while the whips’ office was made aware of the allegations last year, the accusers then did not want for Halbert to be alerted to their concern.
“The whips did have a conversation with him about his staffing, but they did not indicate that a specific concern had been raised.”
Hipkins said he was “confident” the whips did what they should have done, which was check with Parliamentary Service to make sure there were not issues with current staff, and check with the people who had raised the concern to see if they wanted to go further, and check in with the MP about their staff.
Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018.