Code of Conduct

 

Last Revised: April 2022

Explanatory Note

The New Zealand National Party (the Party) recognises the importance of fairness, dignity, and respect for everyone. In so doing, we are setting out our commitment to the highest standards of behaviour between members, and our expectations of every person representing the Party, and to foster an environment of respect, courtesy, and inclusion.

We are also guided by our responsibilities required but not limited to: the Employment Relations Act; the Privacy Act; the Health and Safety at Work Act; the Human Rights Act; and the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

This Code of Conduct applies to all members of the National Party (including Members of Parliament, office holders, employees, volunteers, candidates, and contractors) and their conduct (actions, and/or verbal and/or written) on-site, off site or after hours, in meetings, correspondence (including but not limited to emails, social media), social functions, conferences and travel, and campaign events which individuals may be involved in as a result of their National Party membership or duties.

While complaints may arise from time to time from external parties (non-members) about the conduct of members, this Code of Conduct is interpreted as it relates to actions of and between members of the National Party as a result of their National Party membership.

Any such complaints from external parties (non-members) about a member(s) conduct are not subject to this Code of Conduct but can and may be considered on a case-by-case basis.



1.0
         PURPOSE

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to recognise the importance of fairness, dignity, and respect for everyone who represents the NZ National Party (the Party) and to set out our commitment to the highest standards of behaviour expected of every person representing the Party and to foster an environment of respect, courtesy, and inclusion.



2.0          SCOPE

This Code of Conduct applies to all members of the National Party including Members of Parliament, Office holders, employees, volunteers, candidates, and contractors.

This Code of Conduct applies to conduct (actions, and/or verbal and/or written) on-site, off site or after hours, meetings, correspondence (including but not limited to emails, social media), social functions, conferences and travel, and campaign events which individuals may be involved in as a result of their National Party membership or duties.

Where the conduct of a member is subject to a formal employment process or is subject to being addressed by the Parliamentary Section, this Code of Conduct and its complaint processes shall apply.          

This Code does not operate as a term of any employment agreement unless agreed by the employer and the employee.



3.0
          STANDARDS
 
In the course of their duties and interactions with other Members, Members are expected to
:

  • Comply with all relevant laws of New Zealand, regulations, policies, and procedures, including this Code of Conduct.
  • Operate in a manner that upholds the integrity and values of the National Party.
  • Be honest, objective, and reasonable.
  • Lead by example, to encourage and foster an environment of respect and tolerance.
  • Make decisions in an open and transparent manner, without discrimination or bias.
  • Declare any potential conflicts of interest and relationships. Party Representatives must not act on, or make decisions, in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
  • Neither engage in, nor tolerate discrimination, bullying and harassment or sexual harassment or such behaviours that are inappropriate or offensive to others (Appendix 2).
  • Use social media lawfully, responsibly and in the best interests of the Party.
  • Actively promote and robustly support the Party’s standards and be willing to speak up about behaviour that does not meet these standards wherever it occurs.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure people who wish to raise concerns about bullying, discrimination or harassment by others feel able to do so and know how to follow the complaints procedure set out in this Code (Appendix 1)
  • Cooperate fully with any process set down by the Party’s Board to address any breach of this Code of Conduct.



4.0
          DEFINITIONS

For clarity see Appendix 2 for definitions of inappropriate behaviour, discrimination, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and misuse of social media.



5.0          PROCEDURES FOR COMPLAINTS

The New Zealand National Party is committed to ensuring allegations of inappropriate behaviour are dealt with promptly, confidentially and in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness for all parties involved. Complaints must also be dealt with in accordance with applicable legislation.

1. Handling Matters informally

There may be instances where an individual feels able to raise the concern informally with the person responsible and explain clearly to them that their behaviour is not welcome or makes them uncomfortable.

2. Speaking Up – the Party Line

In instances where the individual feels unable to raise the matter with the person concerned, or with an Office holder, and they do not wish to make a formal complaint, they may call the Party Line on 04 384 9494.

Calls to the Party Line will be regularly reviewed by the Operations Manager of the Party. Serious concerns relating to a Member of Parliament, a candidate or an office holder, and consistent themes will be referred to the Board. Where action is required, the Board will refer the matter to the appropriate office holder in the Party or the Parliamentary Section or to the General Manager, respectively.

3. Formal Complaint Procedure

If informal steps are not appropriate or have been unsuccessful, then the following formal procedure may apply.

Where an individual wishes to make a formal complaint, they should email [email protected]. The Formal Complaint Process is set out in Appendix 1.

Criminal conduct should be reported by the complainant to the Police.

An employee who has a complaint relating to their employment should refer the matter to their employer and/or seek independent advice. An employee working for a Member of Parliament should refer the matter to Parliamentary Services, and an employee of the National Party should refer the matter to the General Manager.

4. Dealing with Complaints

Complaints will be considered and resolved by the Party’s Board in accordance with Appendix 1 below.

Where a genuine concern is reported the person will be protected from any form of harassment provided it is in good faith even if the breach is not proven. Should any retaliation occur, such retaliation may amount to a serious breach of our Code of Conduct.

5. Vexatious Complaints

Where the correct complaints procedure has been followed, and it is believed that the primary purpose, effect and/or manner of a complaint is to disturb, disrupt or put pressure on, or where the complaint is manifestly unreasonable, the complaint will be referred to the Board, who will determine whether the complaint is vexatious or not and advise the complainant of their decision.

6. Other Avenues for Complaints

If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily through any of the above procedures or if outside assistance is sought, it can be referred to:

  • The Human Rights Commission;
  • The NZ Police;
  • The Privacy Commission;
  • WorkSafe New Zealand;
  • A lawyer or other trusted advisor.

7. Support

Both complainants and respondents may access a range of support at any stage in the process – including bringing along support people/whānau or legal representatives, or utilising EAP counselling.



APPENDIX 1

Formal Complaint Process

Where an individual wishes to make a formal complaint, they should email [email protected].

All formal complaints will be investigated in a timely and confidential manner and will be conducted by person/s appointed by the Board with appropriate experience and no prior involvement in the complaint. All investigations shall be thorough, impartial, and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.

In the case of allegations of bullying and harassment the formal complaint process will be conducted with the direct oversight of one nominated Board member.

The complainant will receive an acknowledgement of receipt and an indication of the timeline to investigate the complaint, no later than five working days following the receipt of the complaint.

The following process will be adopted in so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.

Stage 1  

  • A written statement will be obtained from the Complainant, and the Respondent(s) informed that a complaint has been made about them. The Respondent will be given the opportunity to provide any evidence or details that will help to establish their position. It may be necessary to interview witnesses to any of the incidents mentioned in the complaint. If so, the importance of confidentiality will be emphasised to them.

  • A panel of three people appointed by the President of the Party will investigate the complaint and gather evidence. The investigation panel will be made up of persons who have appropriate skills, qualifications and experience to investigate the complaint and will include a Party representative, an independent person and such other person the President considers suitable.

  • If there is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, the complainant will be advised to report the incident to the relevant authority as soon as practicable. In certain instances, we may have a duty to contact the relevant authority directly.

  • The investigation panel will determine whether the complaint warrants further investigation, and/or whether there is a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.

  • If it is agreed that the Code of Conduct has not been breached, and the complaint does not warrant further investigation by the Party, then the Complainant will receive written notification of this, explaining the decision.

  • If it is agreed that the Code of Conduct may have been breached, the detailed breach of conduct investigation process (below) will apply.

Stage 2

  • A fair and reasonable investigation will be carried out in all instances, whether it’s for an alleged (one-off) serious breach, repeated behaviour or something different.

  • The investigation panel will examine in more detail, the complaint and the evidence gathered, and provide their findings to the Party Board, recommending the appropriate level of the Party at which the complaint should be resolved and/or dealt with. If the investigation team cannot agree on its findings, the individual views must also be presented.

  • The investigation panel will be obliged to consider an application on behalf of the Respondent for the matter to be dismissed on the grounds that the complainant’s case is not substantiated, vexatious or malicious, or for any other reason. In considering such an application for dismissal, the investigation team may seek qualified legal advice.

  • If appropriate, the complaint may then be referred to the Board of the National Party, who shall take such action as they see fit.

  • If the Respondent is found in breach of the Code of Conduct, a warning may be issued for misconduct, or, if the misconduct is serious enough, a final warning may be issued stating that the Respondent will be dismissed from the Party if the same behaviour happens again. However, a breach that is considered serious misconduct, may result in suspension of membership or expulsion from the Party (without prior warning). Various possibilities are noted in the ‘disciplinary actions’ section of this document.

Appeal process

An appeal process is in place in the event of an individual being suspended or expelled from membership of the Party. The Respondent has the right to appeal a decision (including if membership to the Party is suspended or withdrawn). The Respondent has 28 days to lodge an appeal. The Complainant has no right of appeal.

A Respondent may appeal the outcome or decision of a Complaint on the following grounds:

(a) There is new relevant information which has a bearing on the matter, and which was previously unavailable; or

(b) There was a procedural flaw in the management of the complaint process; or

(c) The penalty applied in the decision process is manifestly not commensurate with the matter considered as part of the Complaint.

The Appeal Committee shall be made up of three people appointed by the President and shall include one Party member, one independent person and such other person the President considers suitable, all of whom shall have appropriate skills, qualifications and experience and have had no prior involvement in the complaint or in the investigation of the complaint.

An appeal committee may impose a different penalty to the one imposed from the initial investigation, including a more serious penalty. If an appeal has been made, the decision from the appeal shall be final.

Disciplinary actions

If the Respondent is found in breach of the Code of Conduct, disciplinary actions may include:

  • A rebuke or severe rebuke

  • An order that the Respondent apologise to the Complainant in a way acceptable to the Party Board. This may also be a condition of keeping or restoring Party membership.

  • An order that the Respondent remove any offending material from social media which is within the power and control of the Respondent.

  • Conditions on the ongoing membership of the Party such as the need to undertake training.

  • Removal from the Party. Removal may include:

    • Suspension from Party membership for a period of up to 12 months
    • Suspension from any office held within the Party for a specified period of up to 12 months
    • Suspension from any candidature within the Party for a specified period of up to 12 months
    • An order of non-renewal of Party membership.
    • Expulsion from Party membership (subject to ratification by the Party Board)

The Respondent may be subject to consequences resulting from an employment process or action taken by the Parliamentary Section where censure or disciplinary action is warranted.

Vexatious complaints

Where the correct complaints procedure has been followed, and it is believed that the primary purpose and/or effect of a complaint is to disturb, disrupt or put pressure on, and taking into account the manner in which the complaint is made including:

  • the history of interactions with the complainant

  • whether correct complaints procedures have been followed

  • whether the complaint is a revisiting of matters appropriately addressed on other occasions

Or where the complaint is manifestly unreasonable, the complaint will be referred to the Board, who will consider the complaint, may seek qualified legal advice, and will declare the complaint either vexatious or not.

A nominated Board member will respond directly to the complainant explaining why it is thought to be so and that the complaint will be closed with no further action. The complainant may challenge a decision by writing to the President of the Party.

Records & Reporting

  • Subject to any confidentiality requirement, a Record of all formal complaints, and their status will be kept.

  • The Party Board shall report to Party members at the National Annual General Meeting, the number of formal complaints received in any year and the status of those complaints.

  • Records of meetings and decisions will be kept for a minimum of 6 years.  

Any records kept will be subject to the conditions of the Privacy Act.



APPENDIX 2

Inappropriate Behaviour

Discrimination

Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly or less favourably than another person in the same or similar circumstances based on their sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status or sexual orientation.

Bullying and Harassment

Bullying is repeated, unreasonable and inappropriate behaviour directed towards an individual or group, which creates a risk to physical or mental health and safety. It can be a form of discrimination.

Bullying can take many forms, including jokes, teasing, nicknames, emails, pictures, text messages, social isolation or ignoring people, or unfair work practices.

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would expect to offend, humiliate, or intimidate. It may be repeated or a one-off incident which is significant enough to have a detrimental effect on a person’s health, work performance or job satisfaction.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a specific and serious form of harassment. It is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated.

Sexual harassment can be physical, spoken or written. It can include, but is not limited to:

  • sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring.
  • brushing up against someone, touching, fondling, or hugging.
  • sexually suggestive comments or jokes.
  • displaying offensive screen savers, photos, calendars, or objects.
  • repeated unwanted requests to go out.
  • requests for sex.
  • sexually explicit posts on social networking sites.
  • insults or taunts of a sexual nature.
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages.
  • inappropriate advances on social networking sites.
  • accessing sexually explicit internet sites; and
  • behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.

Just because someone does not object to inappropriate behaviour at the time, does not mean that they are consenting to the behaviour.

All members, employees, and volunteers have the same rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment.

A single incident is enough to constitute sexual harassment – it does not have to be repeated. All incidents of sexual harassment – no matter how large or small or who is involved – must be responded to quickly and appropriately.

Comments and behaviour that do not offend one person may offend others.

Misuse of Social Media

A member of the Party may have “misused” social media when the use:

  • commits a crime
  • commits an unlawful act
  • breaches the Code of Conduct (as it relates to other members)
  • endangers or breaches confidentiality
  • in any way that, intentionally or not, breaches any part of the Party Constitution, including in particular in any way that brings the Party into disrepute
  • breaches the confidentiality of any disciplinary process
  • to “like” or “share” or “repost” or otherwise republish or endorse posts made by others that (had they been Party members) would breach any of these criteria

“Use” for these purposes means posting or endorsing information on social media. It is immaterial whether the social media account belongs to the member or is in the name of the member. “Use” covers situations where Party members allow others access to social media accounts over which they have control.

The definitions of “Use” are not exhaustive.