Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Labour backs away from man-ban plan

Labour has dropped its controversial plan to hold some women-only selections after its leader David Shearer asked for it to be withdrawn.

Mr Shearer said the NZ Council had agreed to withdraw the proposal, dubbed the 'man ban', which would have allowed some electorates to block men from seeking selection as a candidate.

However, he said the party still hoped to move toward ensuring at least 45 per cent of its caucus was female after 2014, and 50 per cent after 2017.

"The distraction is turning our attention away from the issues that most New Zealanders are concerned about. They don't want to know about what is happening in the Labour Party.

What they want to know is what we are doing on the issues that affect them. That's power prices, home ownership and good jobs."

Asked whether it was undemocratic for the party to withdraw a proposal put up for discussion by the party's wider membership at its annual conference in November, he said the recommendation for a quota of 45 per cent of women within caucus would remain up for debate.

After caucus today, David Cunliffe said he believed the decision to drop the female-only selections was "entirely appropriate.''

He said he supported the idea of a target for women's representation, but had not agreed with women-only selections. His New Lynn electorate committee had also disagreed with it.

He has previously declined to give his views on it. Asked what it meant to for the leadership of the party and if there there would be concerns among the wider membership about Mr Shearer's decision to drop it before it was put before members at the annual conference, he said "I have no idea.''

"We are all keen to focus on issues that are important to New Zealanders.'' He said the party's women's affairs spokeswoman Sue Moroney had proposals on how to lift the number of women in caucus.

Labour's president Moira Coatsworth would not talk to media after the caucus meeting this morning, but has issued a brief statement saying she agreed with Mr Shearer that the response to the women-only selection process had become a distraction and would not go forward.

She said both she and Mr Shearer remained committed to getting 45 per cent female caucus in 2014 and 50 per cent after 2017.

"We have developed a range of proposals that will help us get there. We need to return to talking about the issues that matter to New Zealanders and as a result, I won't be making any further comment on the issue.''

- NZ Herald

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