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

Labour should not turn its back on Taurima, says Jones

Shane Taurima.
Shane Taurima.

Labour MP Shane Jones has gone into bat for Shane Taurima, saying his chances with Labour should not be written off because of one mistake.

Mr Taurima resigned from his job at TVNZ on Monday after leaked emails to 3 News showed a Labour Party meeting was held in the TVNZ offices last August and Mr Taurima had spoken about winning the Maori vote at another Labour meeting in Auckland in January.

It emerged Mr Taurima was also considering standing for Labour in Tamaki Makaurau despite earlier assurances he had abandoned his political ambitions after an unsuccessful bid for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti selection. Labour leader David Cunliffe described Mr Taurima's actions as a "lapse in judgment" and refused to be drawn on whether he had any chance of being a candidate, saying that was up to the selectors.

Mr Jones said he was still hopeful Mr Taurima would put his name forward.

"I think he was disappointed when he came second in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti race.

Shane, not unlike this Shane, has made mistakes but I'd reserve judgment on whether this issue thwarts his ambitions."

He said Labour should not simply write him off. "It's important when an aspirant goes through a trial such as this that we don't immediately turn our backs on such people. I know from bitter experience that in the heat of it, you can feel very lonely."

Mr Jones also criticised National MPs who had questioned Mr Taurima's bias, saying he had a long career as a professional journalist and had treated all MPs the same.

Mr Taurima did not return calls yesterday.

Some in Labour said the party could consider extending the deadline for nominations beyond next Friday to give Mr Taurima more time to decide whether to put his name forward. A review by TVNZ is expected to take two to three weeks, and extending it could also ensure the outcomes of that were known before the selection.

Labour's general secretary Tim Barnett said there were no plans to do that and no request had been made, but there were provisions to do so, if there were good reasons for it.

TVNZ is undertaking a review of the extent of Mr Taurima's involvement and the work done by the Maori and Pacific Unit while Mr Taurima was its head.

- NZ Herald

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