The underage teenager at the heart of an alleged sexual assault incident following a Young Nats event was not ID checked at the bar where the event was held.
This contradicts claims by National leader Simon Bridges and president Peter Goodfellow everyone was checked for ID – in line with the party’s internal health and safety policies.
But Goodfellow said the health and safety policy was enough to keep people safe, and there were no plans to ban alcohol at youth events.
Police are investigating the incident following the party event in central Auckland last week in which the teenage woman reported inappropriate touching and behaviour by a male Young Nats member. The woman is not a member of the Young Nats.
The incident occurred after the group’s Christmas drinks at the Brew on Quay bar last Tuesday.
When asked whether it was appropriate for the youth wing of the party to hold its Christmas function at a bar, Goodfellow said the bar was instructed to check the age of attendees when they entered.
“We have a comprehensive policy … in particular we asked the venue to ID check everyone who was coming into the venue…
“We feel comfortable that this event was well-handled; was properly run in accordance with the plan that we had.”
Goodfellow said he had checked with Young Nats leadership and was “very confident” and “very satisfied” there was a proper plan in place for the event.
The plan also included the event having a cash bar and plenty of food available.
Bridges also said he was satisfied health and safety procedures were followed.
“It seems clear to me that they followed very strongly a health and safety plan and did all of the right things, both at the Young Nats event and post,” he said.
But the teenager involved did not have her ID checked when she entered the venue or at the bar.
The teenager only purchased non-alcoholic drinks during the event, but the venue’s restricted and supervised licence means she should have not been allowed on the premises without a parent or legal guardian.
The bar refused to comment.
National MPs Simeon Brown and Andrew Bayly were present at the event but both said they did not witness anything concerning. Bayly said there was plenty of food and no one was intoxicated, while Brown said he left the party early – about 8pm.
Goodfellow said he saw no issue with holding the event at a bar, and said there was no need to ban alcohol at youth events, as Labour had done following incidents at its youth camp in February. Goodfellow said there were restrictions on access to alcohol at the Young Nats event because it was held at a bar.
Last Tuesday’s incident happened after the woman and the Young Nats member left the official event at Brew on Quay.
It is understood the woman and some friends went to the young man’s apartment near the bar as they were moving to another karaoke venue. They say he had told them he was a wealthy political party donor and there were drinks at his place.
The woman was taken to a room where he allegedly grabbed her face, tried to kiss her and keep her from her friends, at one stage pulling her away from them by her wrists. When she got out of the room and left the flat she was pursued across a road and to a fast food outlet’s toilet area as the man allegedly continued to try to grope her.
Goodfellow said the party’s “comprehensive policy” – which was not public – included making sure attendees at party events made it home safely.
When questioned why that did not happen in this case, he said the party could only make options available to attendees, it was up to them how to act.
The party was offering support to the woman via an intermediary support person but had not had any direct contact with the woman or man involved.
As well as reporting the incident to police, the woman was being supported by a Young Nats support person, a woman in a governance role of an organisation the young woman is involved in, and an MP who says he called and counselled her and promised any support she might need.
The incident comes as the National Party undergoes a review of its culture, following the Jami-Lee Ross saga.
Goodfellow and Bridges said the party had robust policies. However, the review would look at whether the procedures were fit-for-purpose.
The revelations come on the same day Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard launched an independent external review into harassment and bullying within Parliament, following a raft of high-profile incidents in new Zealand, and a similar review completed by the British Parliament.