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This code of conduct is draft. Our Board of Directors wish to see the final Parliamentary Code of Conduct, and while acknowledging that we are different organisations, with different structures, it is important they are as consistent as possible.


Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set out the minimum standards of behaviour expected from anyone representing the Party, and to foster an environment free from inappropriate behaviour, in all aspects of the Party’s activities.

This Code of Conduct applies to anyone who formally represents the Party, in any capacity (including volunteer workers).


Our standards

Representatives of the Party are expected to:

  • 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.
  • Comply with all relevant laws, regulations, policies and procedures, including this Code of Conduct.

We aim to foster an environment where everyone we work with is treated in a professional manner. Bullying, abuse, harassing or unlawfully discriminating against others will not be tolerated.

Non-compliance with this Code may result in bringing the reputation of the National Party into disrepute. Any breach of this Code will be considered as a serious matter and may result in disciplinary action.


Complaints and alleged breach of conduct

There may be instances where an individual feels able to raise the problem informally with the person responsible and explain clearly to them that their behaviour is not welcome or makes them uncomfortable. If informal steps are not appropriate or have been unsuccessful, then the following formal procedure may apply.

Any individual wishing to make a formal complaint against elected representatives or anyone else in the Party, should contact their Manager. Any delay in making a complaint may prejudice it being resolved. A serious delay may mean that the complaint is rejected, as it may not be possible to deal with it fairly. All complaints must include the following information:

  • The name and contact details of the Complainant (person making the complaint);
  • The name of the Respondent (who the claim is against) and their position in the Party (if known);
  • A clear factual description of what the Respondent has done, and when and how they did it;
  • Evidence (including witness statements);
  • Why it is being complained about;
  • Details on previous steps taken to resolve the matter (if applicable);
  • If the matter has been referred to anyone else (e.g. police).

After the complaint has been received, the Complainant’s manager will consider whether the complaint should be rejected or accepted. The complaint may be rejected if it is obviously trivial or lacking in merit, if the information and evidence is incomplete or not considered strong enough to prove the allegation, cannot fairly be investigated (e.g. if there has been a serious delay making the complaint); and/or if there is another compelling and legally justifiable reason to do so.

The Complainant will be told of any rejection of the complaint as soon as possible, and why the claim is being rejected. In all other cases, the manager will discuss the complaint with the Respondent.

For formal complaints or confidential advice, please contact:

Greg Hamilton
General Manager/Party Secretary
04 894 7016
greg.hamilton@national.org.nz

Donna Fifield
Operations Manager
04 894 7015
donna.fifield@national.org.nz

A copy of the complaint form can be found here


Response to the complaint

The Respondent is entitled to admit the complaint or deny it. The Respondent must tell the manager or investigation team in writing whether the complaint is admitted or denied.

  • If the Respondent denies the complaint, they must state their reasons for doing so and provide evidence in support of their position (including any witness evidence). This evidence must be provided within 5 working days after being informed of the complaint, unless additional time has been agreed with their manager.
  • If the Respondent fails to admit or deny the complaint, or fails to respond to the complaint at all, the matter will be referred to the Party Chairman on the expiry of the 5-day deadline specified above without further notice or reference to the Respondent.
  • If the Respondent admits the complaint and wishes to make amends themselves, they must tell their manager or the investigation team and explain what steps are intended and when they will be taken.

Investigation process

All formal complaint will be investigated it in a timely and confidential manner. The investigation will be conducted by someone with appropriate experience and no prior involvement in the complaint. All investigations shalle be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.

The investigation process is as follows:

  • 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 minimum of two people will investigate the complaint and gather evidence. The investigation team will include a Party representative, and an independent person.
  • 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 team 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.

Breach of Code of Conduct (detailed investigation process)

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

The investigation team will examine in more detail, the complaint and the evidence gathered, and provide their findings to the Party Chairman, 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 team 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 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 worker will be dismissed if the same behaviour happens again. A breach that is considered serious misconduct, may result in suspension of membership or expulsion from the Party. Various possibilities are noted in the ‘disciplinary actions’ section of this document.
  • Records of meetings and decisions will be kept for a minimum of 6 years.  

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.
  • 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 Chairman. 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:
    • Provisional expulsion from Party membership (subject to ratification by the Party Board)
    • 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.