Goff thinks fresh face has winning edge

By Audrey Young

Labour leader Phil Goff says his party's bid to keep the Mt Albert seat in the coming byelection will be stronger with fresh faces.

He made the comment yesterday after the eight Labour candidates vying for Labour selection this Sunday faced their first meeting with local members.

Mr Goff said the withdrawal of locally based list MP Phil Twyford from the contest had not been raised either in the meeting of about 130 members at Owairaka school or in any of the discussions he had had yesterday.

The Green candidate will be co-leader and list MP Russel Norman, and National list MP Melissa Lee will be a strong contender to win her party's nomination.

It is believed that Mr Twyford was pressured by Mr Goff not to stand because he believed that having an existing MP as a candidate would be a disadvantage.

A win in Mt Albert by a Labour list MP would also return former Auckland Central MP Judith Tizard to Parliament.

Mr Goff said the Twyford decision "is simply accepted that that was the decision taken for the reasons that Phil gave and I don't think there is any ongoing concern about that at all".

Mr Twyford's statement said it was "an ideal opportunity to bring more fresh talent into the Parliament".

Mr Goff described a Herald on Sunday column yesterday by union leader and former Alliance leader Matt McCarten as over the top.

Mr McCarten said that "in a stunning display of political cowardice, the Labour Party national hierarchy this week kneecapped Twyford".

He added: "The political assassination of one of their best and brightest is one of the most disloyal and treacherous political acts I've seen."

Mr Goff said the column was a little over the top but then said, "actually, it was a lot over the top".

There was no substance to what Mr McCarten was saying.

"We have Phil Twyford in Parliament therefore we haven't missed out on the qualities that Phil can bring to us."

Mr Goff would not reveal what advice he had given Mr Twyford "but I think it will be a strength for the Labour Party to have a candidate who is not a member of Parliament".

"Now they will be asking the questions, I imagine, 'Why would we vote for Melissa Lee, she is already there. Why would we vote for Russel Norman, he is already there."

Labour had the chance with its eight contenders for the nomination to put a fresh face to the electorate. And any of them would be a good candidate, he said.

The field of nine was cut to eight with the withdrawal last week of Simon Mitchell, who has just been elected a City Vision member of the Eden-Albert community board.

David Shearer, a former adviser to Mr Goff, is considered the one to beat for the Labour nomination.

At present he is the deputy special representative to Iraq of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Meanwhile the Kiwi Party says it will stand a candidate in the June 13 byelection.

Leader and former United Future MP Larry Baldock said no party in Parliament was committed to "addressing the damage done by the Labour Party's social engineering during their nine years in office". Most people wanted to see the anti-smacking law repealed and the drinking age raised.

- NZ Herald

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