Goff: I prefer Carter's damnation to his praise

By Derek Cheng, Claire Trevett, NZPA, NZ Herald staff

Chris Carter. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Chris Carter. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader Phil Goff has rejected dumped MP Chris Carter's criticism and his claims the party was vindictive and petty toward him.

Mr Carter was expelled from the party during a six-hour meeting of the party's national council yesterday, after he sent anonymous letters to journalists in Parliament's Press Gallery undermining leader Mr Goff on July 29.

Today the Te Atatu MP told Radio New Zealand said the party had been unprofessional and petty in its handling of the situation.

"I just think it's a ridiculous over reaction to make Phil Goff look strong."

Today Mr Goff said the row had become "a side show" and he had moved on.

"I think I prefer his damnation rather than his praise, frankly. Chris Carter has to be accountable for his own actions ... I'm past Chris Carter now."

He said Mr Carter had never shown any contrition for his "utterly unacceptable" actions.

He had rejected Mr Carter's offer of a joint Rodney Hide- Heather Roy style reconciliation in which Mr Carter would admit to a moment of madness if Mr Goff admitted he had not supported Mr Carter properly because it would not have been sincere.

"That looked ridiculous. Two people who had totally opposite views pretending they got on with each other. I'm not into that type of phoniness."

He was sorry Mr Carter's political career had ended in such a way and hoped he could rebuild his life "but he's not my responsibility, he's not relevant to the Labour Party."

Key: Labour not happy team

Prime Minister John Key said he did not believe Mr Carter was the sole voice of contention in the Labour party.

"Chris Carter has pointed out they're not a happy team round there. I don't think he speaks solely for himself. But in the end he's found himself an outcast and I'll leave him to deal with that."

He said he would not tolerate any such undermining within his own caucus, saying there was a long history of leaders kicking out MPs in similar situations.

Asked if he too believed it was simply a sideshow, he said:

"I think everything that's happening round the Labour Party at the moment is a sideshow, quite frankly."

He said Labour was so caught up in its internal ructions that it was not looking at the big issues. "The last two years has been around its internal management affairs and I don't think they've resolved those."

Expulsion 'petty' - Carter

Mr Carter, who has the right under the party's constitution to appeal against his expulsion, made his case to the party's council for four hours last night.

He then left the party's headquarters in Willis St, Wellington, at 9.30pm out the back door, avoiding waiting reporters.

Today Mr Carter said told Radio New Zealand he heard about his expulsion on the radio this morning.

However, Labour Party President Andrew Little said Mr Carter's representatives were informed of his expulsion last night.

Mr Carter said the council did not listen to his defence and he felt as though he was appearing before the inquisition.

Mr Carter said he would talk to family and friends about his future but planned to serve the rest of his term as MP for Te Atatu and would decide next week whether to appeal the decision.

"I did a stupid thing, it was born out of anger, it didn't happen for no reason - I felt as though I'd been used as a scapegoat by Phil Goff over this whole travel business," he said.

"Nothing I put in my letter was incorrect, the way I did it was ridiculous, stupid." Mr Carter said he would not do it again.

Little on expulsion

Last night, Mr Little said Mr Carter's actions on July 29, when he sent anonymous letters to journalists in Parliament's Press Gallery undermining leader Phil Goff, were likely to foment internal discontent and encourage external ridicule.

"They were deceptive, they were clearly calculated to cause damage to the caucus and foment discontent and disharmony in the caucus and cause damage to the party's reputation," Mr Little said.

"At no time has there been an acceptance of the gravity of [the actions] or a display of contrition."

The council debated until close to midnight and all members supported expulsion.

Carter's position untenable - Williams

Former party president Mike Williams backed Mr Little's handling of the situation.

He told National Radio's Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon this morning Mr Carter could not have remained in the party.

"The position Chris was advocating was untenable," he said. "He's saying 'I support the Labour Party but not the leader'."

He said while there was nothing wrong with questioning the party's leader, "subterfuge" was not the way to go about leadership change.

"He should have moved a notice of motion in caucus ... do it all democratically," Mr Williams said.

"If you lose, you lose and get on with it. There were a lot of people in the party who didn't support Helen Clark - you don't voice your opinions [to the media] on that."

- With NZPA

Labour Party statement:

Decision regarding Chris Carter

The New Zealand Council of the Labour Party met tonight to consider the disciplinary proceedings it raised against Te Atatu MP Chris Carter, following his actions of 29 July 2010.

After hearing from Mr Carter and deliberating for several hours, the New Zealand Council resolved to expel Mr Carter from the New Zealand Labour Party, effective immediately.

The Council held that Mr Carter had brought the Party into disrepute, in breach of its rules, by acting in a misleading manner that was likely to foment internal discontent and encourage external ridicule, including by:

a) Preparing the written statement in the terms that he did, and circulating it to the Press Gallery;

b) Initially denying, including to colleagues, that he was responsible for the anonymous circulation of the document to the Press Gallery, and suggesting that named others were likely responsible for its circulation;

c) Eventually admitting (after being confronted with the evidence) publicly that he prepared the written statement and circulated it to the Press Gallery;

d) Purporting to disclose in the written statement that the Party is broke, by which it is understood that the Party is unable to meet its financial obligations, and further implying that the Party is incapable of withstanding the costs of a by-election;

e) In television interviews first broadcast on Thursday 29 July, calling for the resignation of the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party without having sought at any stage to invoke the Party's internal processes to advance that view; and

f) Giving an overall public impression through his actions and comments that the Party is divided, unprepared for and unlikely to win the next General Election.

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