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O'Connor apologises for gay gaggle/union comment

But Labour MP, vying for Coasters' affection, stops short of saying sorry.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011

Labour MP Damien O'Connor today apologised for using the words "self-serving unionists" and "gaggle of gays" to describe those behind the party list, but stopped short from saying sorry for the sentiment.

He told media he had stood aside from the Labour Party list because he did not trust the ranking process, which he said was dominated by unionists and gays.

Having lost his place on Labour's list, Mr O'Connor now needs to win back his old seat of West  Coast-Tasman - currently held by National - to stay in Parliament after the election.

Mr O'Connor said he gave a "genuine" apology for his comments to his caucus colleagues this morning, and believes it was accepted.

But he was still concerned over the list process.

"I have said sorry for the words I used and the fact that I have raised that in public," he said.

"Caucus is the place to raise these things. I've always spoken my mind, but perhaps I've got to improve how and where I do that."

He would not say whether his colleagues were upset by his comments.

"I apologised for identifying those two particular groups. There are many groups involved in the list selection process, but there are issues and I will raise them with the party.

Party leader Phil Goff said Mr O'Connor told caucus he "had stuffed up", but remained unhappy with the list process.

Mr Goff said he accepted he had caused a distraction.

Last week's caucus was dominated by the Darren Hughes affair and how Mr Goff handled it. He kept quiet about a sexual allegation made against Mr Hughes and let him continue in spokesman roles until it was made public. That sparked leadership coup talk which came to nothing but wasn't healthy for the caucus.

Mr O'Connor's outburst means another meeting was focused on an internal behaviour issue rather than taking the battle to the Government.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011
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O'Connor apologises for gay gaggle/union comment