Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Former Labour minister won't vote for the party

Labour MP Dover Samuels awaits to give his farewell valedictory speech. Photo / File
Labour MP Dover Samuels awaits to give his farewell valedictory speech. Photo / File

Former Labour minister Dover Samuels says he won't be voting for the party at the election.

He cited the party's opposition to the Puhoi to Wellsford extension and Leader David Cunliffe's "prima donna grandstanding" over the issue of sexual violence.

The former Maori Affairs Minister who now serves on the Northland Regional Council confirmed the Herald this morning he did not intend giving his party vote to Labour.

"Labour's moved away from me, I've never moved away from Labour. I'm as staunch of the principles of Labour as I ever was, since the days of Mickey Savage."

He indicated he would be voting for NZ First.

"Winston Peters has been somebody that certainly has been an advocate of the regions and I'm a regional councillor and I find that spokespersons for the Labour Party have really turned their backs on some of the initiatives that the Northland Council have been advocating."

He pointed to Labour's plan to indefinitely postpone the Puhoi to Wellsford extension which it derides as "the holiday highway".

" I don't know where they got that from but the Puhoi road is integral to Northland's economic future."

Labour's Te Tai Tokerau candidate and serving list MP Kelvin Davis this week broke ranks and said he too backed the highway as important infrastructure for the region.

Mr Samuels said he welcomed that.

"Kelvin's got my electorate vote. Simple as that."

"Kelvin has been to all of our council meetings. He's in touch with the feelings of the people here, we've done an analysis of the benefits. If the Labour Party has done an analysis and come up with different figures then come up and talk to us. But they've never come near us."

Mr Samuels said his advice to Labour was "come back to the grass roots principles".

"I was a minister and a Member of Parliament under Helen Clark. She recognised you never become Government if you don't take middle New Zealand with you.

"Shane Jones saw that and unfortunately this idea of "rich prick" and this idea of "I'm ashamed to be a man" and all of this kind of prima donna grandstanding does not actually resonate well with middle New Zealand at all."

Mr Samuels said he was hearing many Labour Party supporters of long standing asking "what is happening to our party?".

- NZ Herald

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