Chris Carter ousted from Labour over leak
MP Chris Carter has been suspended from the Labour Party after confessing his responsibility for an anonymous letter sent to the press gallery this morning.
The letter, sent through parliament’s internal mail system, implied that Labour leader Phil Goff would be challenged before the next election.
In a press conference this afternoon, Mr Goff said Mr Carter's actions were stupid and disloyal and that the letter, “while not true, was designed to damage the party that I lead.”
“Chris Carter has no future in the Labour Party that I lead”, he said. “There are no more chances”.
Mr Carter was disciplined by Mr Goff earlier this year after a credit-card spending scandal.
The unanimous decision to suspend Mr Carter from caucus was made after an emergency Labour caucus meeting called shortly before the press conference.
Mr Goff expected elections in Mr Carter’s electorate of Te Atatu to be re-opened.
Details of the leak
The leaked letter was delivered to selected press gallery offices this morning in what appeared to be an old airmail envelope with Office of Minister of Finance printed on it, but no stamp.
“Just a heads up on two issues you might find quite interesting in the Labour caucus”, it began.
The letter claimed that union-based MPs would challenge Mr Goff next Tuesday over his stance on a government plan to allow workers to cash in their fourth week of holiday.
Mr Goff has indicated that he does not consider the proposal as a priority issue.
''The issue has brought to a head the growing discontent in the caucus with both Goff's leadership and his poor polling," the letter said.
It suggested that Labour finance spokesman David Cunliffe would make a leadership move before the election.
The letter also claimed that Manurewa MP George Hawkins would be challenged by a member of ''the Engineers Union'' with nominations due to close on September 1.
Mr Goff, back from Auckland this afternoon, confronted Mr Carter after recognising his handwriting on the letter envelope. Mr Carter was also apparently seen in the messenger’s room in parliament this morning.
After Mr Carter confessed, Mr Goff advised him that he would move to suspend him from caucus.- a move supported by caucus later that day.
On a Labour Party blog, minutes after Mr Goff's press conference, fellow MP Trevor Mallard wrote "our team decision was unanimous ... He [Carter] did something incredibly stupid".