Labour leader claims party 'unified' despite list furore
Labour leader Andrew Little insists Labour is "unified" despite in-fighting over its general election candidate list which was finally released this morning after delays.
In a press conference this morning, Mr Little was questioned on how the infighting might have looked to voters just months before the general election.
He appeared annoyed by leaks in the party, after stuff.co.nz revealed yesterday that former Alliance MP and high profile broadcaster Willie Jackson was unhappy with his list placing.
“I think some of what happened yesterday was unfortunate, people were speaking out of turn,” Mr Little says. “In the end we’re dealing with a list for a general election, we’re dealing with people’s livelihoods and potential careers. I think it was a gross discourtesy and disrespect for people who were entitled to have their issues dealt with in an appropriate decorum and under confidentiality.”
He would not reveal who approached him or the party to complain about their list placing.
Following a crisis meeting last night, the party released the list and said Mr Jackson had been given a position as Māori campaign director for the election. The party’s list puts Mr Jackson at No 21. Labour's Māori senior vice-president Tane Phillips said Mr Jackson was asked to take on the role due to his ability to connect with a demographic of Māori voters who live in urban areas, are typically younger and part of a new generation.”
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Mr Little says it was important New Zealand’s ethnic community, particularly Chinese and Indian, were represented as high up the list as possible.
“We made the big mistake last time of having them too far down and we have been in the embarrassing position up until recently of having no Chinese or Indian MPs for the Labour party. That won’t happen again after 2017.”
He says the party is proud of the Maori representation on the list, including the Maori seat MPs who opted off the list in March.
This is despite having no Maori MPs in the first 15 places on the list.
“The combination of [the MPs that opted off the list] and the Maori Party candidates on the list, we will have one of the biggest representation of Maori [in a party] in New Zealand’s history.”
Veteran Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who had previously opted to go “list only” comes in at 32 and is the party’s nomination for Speaker in the next parliament.
Mr Mallard’s Hutt South replacement is Ginny Anderson, who has been placed at No 27 and will square up with National’s Chris Bishop for the seat.
Former police association president Greg O’Connor is ranked at No 40, which means to get into Parliament, he would almost certainly need to win Ohariu from Peter Dunne.
Newcomers include policy adviser Priyanca Radhakrishnan who is ranked No 11 and is the highest ranked non-MP.
Northland's Willow-Jean Prime comes in at No 16 and Wellington deputy mayor Paul Eagle at No 33.
Tauranga candidate Jan Tinetti has been placed at No 14 and East Coast candidate lawyer Kiri Allan comes in at number 20.
Andrew Little, who is not standing in a seat, has the top spot, followed by Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson.
Assuming Labour only holds onto its current 27 electorate seats, Andrew Little would require just over 23% of the popular vote to get into Parliament. If they get fewer, he will get in with less popular vote. (Source: Kiwiblog)
David Parker, at No 9, is the next highest ranked candidate who will be relying on a list placing.
Party president Nigel Haworth says the lineup includes a “wealth of high-calibre candidates.”
Mr Little says the list is as reflective and representative of New Zealand as possible.
“I am proud and excited to be leading such a dynamic and capable group of candidates into this year’s election.”