I'll be an electorate MP or nothing, says Dalziel

By Claire Trevett, Derek Cheng

Lianne Dalziel. Photo / APN
Lianne Dalziel. Photo / APN

Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel will not stand on her party's list this election, saying if the people from Christchurch do not want her to return as their electorate MP she would prefer to leave Parliament altogether.

Ms Dalziel is one of only two MPs who have spurned the safety of the party's list for the election this November.

Labour's moderating committee will meet to complete the list rankings tomorrow and most sitting MPs usually secure high enough places to stay in Parliament.

Only Ms Dalziel and Ross Robertson, who has the safe seat of Manukau East and has consistently refused to go on the list, are not going on it this year.

Ms Dalziel deliberately stood as a list-only MP from 1996 to 1999 and has gone on the list every year since, but has otherwise represented Christchurch Central and then Christchurch East since 1990.

She said she strongly supported MMP and the list system but since the first Christchurch earthquake last September, she had decided to stand as an electorate MP only.

"I came to the conclusion that if I wasn't re-elected by the people of Christchurch East I wouldn't want to be a member of Parliament. I wouldn't want to be anything other than the MP for this area, especially now with the challenge we've got." She said she had not enjoyed being a list MP because the connection with her constituents was not as close.

If Labour's polling slumps after recent leadership rumblings and the fallout from a police complaint against Darren Hughes, it could lose some of the 22 list seats it now has. Although it is a secret ballot, the three caucus representatives have great sway on the 38-strong member moderating committee.

They include leader Phil Goff, deputy leader Annette King and MP David Cunliffe, who was voted on by caucus this week after a tense competition with David Parker. The vote was a tie and the deadlock broken when the whip Rick Barker flipped a coin.

Mr Cunliffe's supporters were understood to include several other Auckland-based MPs hoping to further boost the regional vote.

Auckland already gets four votes on the committee - double that of any other region. Mr Cunliffe is also understood to have lobbied hard for the role, tying up several of his colleagues' votes in advance.

Most of the list MPs at the top of the caucus rankings - David Parker, Maryan Street, Charles Chauvel, Sue Moroney and Shane Jones - will be safe, and the party is understood to be keen to elevate Kelvin Davis, viewed as one successor to Parekura Horomia and ranked at 29 last election.

But others in danger of dropping down to make room for newcomers include Ashraf Choudhary, Carol Beaumont, Damien O'Connor and Darien Fenton. Mr Horomia is expected to slip down the list, partly because of his indecision about whether he will stand again in his Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate.

Andrew Little, who stood down as party president last weekend and is the top trade union candidate, is expected to parachute in above many sitting MPs. Others with significant support include former Auckland regional councillor Christine Rose, who is standing in Rodney, and Rangitikei candidate Josie Pagani. Aucklander Michael Wood also impressed in the Botany byelection and has union backing, as has Jerome Mika.

The chairwoman of the party's union affiliates, Jill Ovens, said her hopes were to get more Pacific Islanders and Auckland-based women into higher list places.

The moderating committee is made up of members from each of the party's regional branches, as well as its sector groups, including women, Maori, Pacific Island, trade unions, youth and "Rainbow".

- NZ Herald

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