Ex-Alliance minister eyeing Labour nod for Carter's seat

By Audrey Young

Laila Harre. Photo / APN
Laila Harre. Photo / APN

Former Cabinet minister Laila Harre says she would seriously consider contesting the nomination for Chris Carter's Te Atatu seat if it were a viable option for Labour.

The party's council is expected to expel Mr Carter in a week and open nominations for the seat.

He was sprung as the author of notes to Press Gallery offices suggesting discontent in the caucus with Phil Goff's leadership and a likely challenge before the election.

"I don't think anyone, least of all myself, was considering that this opportunity might arise," Laila Harre said about the prospective vacancy.

A former Alliance Cabinet minister, she lives in Te Atatu and is due to end her job with the Auckland Transition Agency in September. But she then takes up another post, which makes it difficult.

"I live in the community and I'm a political person and if it was a serious possibility, it is something I would have to consider seriously," she said.

"It's always a privilege to represent your community and your ideals in Parliament, but it would be a remote possibility in my case."

Laila Harre is not a member of Labour or any other political party but Labour's rules allow that requirement to be waived in special circumstances.

She is due to take up a post in Suva in September working in the Pacific for the International Labour Organisation.

She has stood in Te Atatu and other West Auckland seats. She was an MP from 1996 to 2002 and a minister in the Labour-Alliance coalition. She later worked for the Nurses Organisation and the National Distribution Union.

Lawyer Deborah Manning, who came to prominence representing refugee Ahmed Zaoui, is also being tipped as a contender for the nomination, but she could not be contacted last night to confirm this.

It is possible that sitting list MPs could seek the Te Atatu seat but Mr Goff has referred on several occasions to the Carter incident opening up the opportunity for "renewal".

Mr Carter, who will remain in Parliament as an independent until next year's election, holds the seat with a 5298 majority. But on the party vote, National (13,183) beat Labour by 12 votes.

When contacted by the Weekend Herald, Mr Carter refused to confirm a TV report that he would not stand for Parliament at the next election.

Mr Goff said yesterday he believed Mr Carter would have no mandate to remain as an MP if the party expelled him.

But the Labour leader backed his old ally George Hawkins in the face of a possible challenge for selection in Manurewa, which the MP has held since 1990.

Mr Goff said in Auckland: "I am confident that George is well supported by the people in his electorate and that he would be confident of being selected even if it was contested."

- NZ Herald

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