Greens co-leader set to be MP - at last

By Claire Trevett

The Green Party member who refused to step aside so his party's co-leader could become an MP has backed down.

Russel Norman will now enter Parliament before the election after the surprise about-turn by party member Mike Ward, who had previously blocked Mr Norman's bid to replace Nandor Tanczos.

Mr Ward's change of mind comes after the party said Mr Tanczos would stay until the election because Mr Ward was refusing to cede his list ranking.

The party had planned that Mr Tanczos would quit Parliament and Mr Norman would take his place by leapfrogging Mr Ward on the party list.

"While there are plenty of people who support my stand, it seems to me if Nandor would rather not be there, then Russel would probably be better off in his place," Mr Ward said.

"I just decided that it was time to just move aside."

Mr Ward earlier said Mr Norman should focus on campaigning rather than becoming bogged down learning the ropes of Parliament.

He told Mr Norman of his change of mind in an email on the eve of the party's conference last weekend - which Mr Ward did not attend - but asked for it not to be made public.

Mr Norman said yesterday he was relieved the matter was resolved.

Mr Tanczos did not return calls yesterday, but the change means he will soon leave Parliament.

He had wanted to stay until his Waste Minimisation Bill was passed, but agreed to leave earlier after the bill's progress was slower than expected.

Mr Ward was a Green MP from 2002 to 2005.

His agreement to stand aside was needed because he was at 8 on the party's 2005 list, above Mr Norman's ranking at 10.

The Maori Party has been quick to rebuff suggestions of any deal to encourage its supporters to give their party votes to the Green Party.

At the Green Party conference, co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said such a vote split would be in the interests of Maori Party supporters.

But Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia yesterday said the party intended to campaign strongly for the party vote.

- NZ Herald

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