Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Twyford's seat targeted after Chinese-names furore

Labour Party MP Phil Twyford. Photo / NZME.
Labour Party MP Phil Twyford. Photo / NZME.

A former Labour member plans to run a candidate in Te Atatu in protest at Phil Twyford's use of Chinese-sounding names to analyse Auckland property purchases.

Former Labour staffer and political commentator Phil Quin, who resigned as a Labour member over the data analysis which he called racial profiling, said he hoped the candidate would win enough votes in 2017 to oust Mr Twyford from the seat. Mr Quin told the Herald he was searching for a candidate who could run as an alternative for Labour voters who had been made uncomfortable by Mr Twyford's use of the housing data.

"I don't expect such a campaign to win more than a couple of thousand votes - not nearly enough to win, but enough to force Twyford to rely on his high list ranking."

If such a campaign were successful it would not damage the Labour Party overall or the number of MPs it would take into Parliament, Mr Quin said. "I'm not interested in helping National - that runs counter to my life's work to date - and MMP allows us to target electorate MPs without affecting overall parliamentary representation."

Mr Twyford won Te Atatu with a majority of 2813 votes and was promoted from fifth to fourth in a reshuffle of Labour 's caucus rankings at the end of November.

Responding to Mr Quin's plan, he said: "My constituents will decide whether to keep me on or not. In the meantime, I'll just keep working hard for the electorate."

Mr Twyford created a storm of controversy last year when he highlighted the large number of Chinese-sounding names on a list of 4000 residential purchases in Auckland.

He has pressed ahead with a private member's bill that would ban foreign property speculation, and will be debated soon after Parliament resumes next month.

"My bill is needed. New Zealand homes will continue to be very attractive to cashed-up foreign speculators," Mr Twyford said.

If nobody stepped up, Mr Quin said he could reluctantly run as a candidate himself.

- NZ Herald

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