OPINION: Labour will be hoping party president Nigel Haworth's exit will cauterise the wounds.

It's political management 101: feed the media a scalp and they will move on.

Haworth should have gone weeks ago, because he presided over two shocking episodes in which young volunteers have alleged sexual assault, and were badly failed by the party's processes.

Instead he put his own career over those young people, by publicly contradicting their account of events. And, in the end, that's what forced his exit.

* Former Labour party volunteer says he raised allegations with party president Nigel Haworth

* Young Labour abuse victims barred from Parliament offices

* Labour took six months to investigate serious sexual assault complaint

* Why Labour president must resign over sexual assault allegations

But it is not yet time to draw a line under the bullying, intimidation and assault allegations that currently shame the party. There are too many unanswered questions.

Just under a year ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood in front of the UN General Assembly and declared the #MeToo movement must become We Too.

It won her glowing international commentary.

"We are all in this together," was the message she took to New York, but it was not the words her young flock heard back in New Zealand when they reached out for help. They got brushed off with 'see you', not We too. As the party's figurehead, Ardern bears ultimate responsibility for their betrayed faith.

Chief among the most pressing questions for Ardern is what shape Labour's new inquiry will take.

Maria Dew, QC, an employment lawyer, will investigate, but more than a month on her terms of reference are currently being firmed up. Will those explicitly state that she will investigate the specific allegations of sexual assault? Will she and the party get external agencies, like Rape Crisis, with specific expertise in dealing with sex abuse claims on board?

There are other unresolved issues.

Ardern and the party must now be upfront about how much they knew about these allegations, and exactly when.

It's important for a few reasons. Firstly, so that the public can be sure that senior figures did not shield this staffer.

His identity cannot be disclosed, but he held positions of influence within the party and then through his job, with the Labour Leader's Office at Parliament.

There are other connections - which cannot be detailed for legal reasons - but mean he held more sway than an average volunteer or apparatchik.

It is one of the reasons why the complainants were so reluctant to come forward with their stories in the first place.

One of them told Stuff: "Abuse only happens in a vacuum, it thrives in silence. And that's the case here. For years he was able to bully and intimidate women and have relationships with women where he was abusive.

"That was reasonably well known and yet he was still given opportunities within the party. Despite his reputation, he kept on going up the ladder."

The party needs to explain how that perception was allowed to take root among those young people.

We need to know precisely when senior ministers - including Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern (or their staff, because they are one in the same) were informed of the allegations. And what they did about it.

Did Ardern ever ask for a copy of Labour's internal investigation, or the subsequent review? Why not?

Ardern says she didn't know the allegations were sexual until this week. That's hard to swallow.

An email sent to media outlets and others on July 12 very explicitly references allegations of extreme sexual violence. The first media reporting of the scandal, on August 5, details that some of the complaints were of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Is she saying that she wasn't aware of these?

Ardern learned about the 2018 youth camp assault allegations through the media, and at that time she made her displeasure very clear. Did Haworth really make the same mistake twice?

Politics is a hotbed of gossip, and there are no secrets at Parliament. Staffers, politicians and reporters trade information as a currency. It's possible Ardern and her staff were oblivious to the stories, but unlikely. And if it really is true, she should be asking questions about the efficacy of her key advisors.

For the same reasons, it's hard to accept that senior figures within the Labour party machinery had no inkling of concern about this man's behaviour. The complainants say they flagged it with a number of senior figures going back as 2017 (one woman counted that she had raised concerns on eight separate occasions).

The branch that he was involved with is one of the party's more influential, and its members certainly hold more access and sway with MPs and officials than others.

Was the party really blind to these allegations?

And then there is the shambolic internal investigation. Haworth has carried the can, but the decisions were not his alone.

The party's ruling council decided the process. Why did they believe an internal inquiry, with no expert guidance, was appropriate?

Did the investigation panel ignore the more serious allegations of sexual assault, or not take them seriously?

Who decided the Labour staffer could bring his lawyer, when the complainants were denied legal representation?

And why were the complainants denied the right to see the final report? They have never had an explanation as to why their stories weren't believed.

Ardern said on Wednesday: "It is my job to make that right."

She and the party can start by being absolutely transparent with the public about these shocking events. Otherwise, abuse continues to thrive in silence.

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