Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Isaac Davison: New, young Green women at risk of missing out on Parliament

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Chloe Swarbrick is one of a handful of promising new Green candidates. Will Green members give her a chance of election? Photo / Chris Smith
Chloe Swarbrick is one of a handful of promising new Green candidates. Will Green members give her a chance of election? Photo / Chris Smith

COMMENT: The Green Party is having a particularly strong year for attracting promising candidates, in particular young women.

Among the new recruits are Auckland mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick, broadcaster and sportswoman Hayley Holt, and high-flying lawyer Golriz Ghahraman.

At a time when Labour is recalling political veterans and straining to maintain its gender balance, the Greens are relatively spoilt for choice.

But there is a risk that none of the Greens' new candidates will get winnable list places if the party follows a similar pattern to the 2014 rankings.

On occasion, the Greens have successfully refreshed their list. In 2008 and 2011, the party's top 15 places featured six new faces. In 2014, however, the list's top 15 featured only one new person - Marama Davidson.

To decide the party list, delegates draw up draft rankings and make a recommendation to the members. The members then determine the final list rankings. In the past, they have tended towards conservatism, placing sitting MPs highly even if they have not shone in Parliament.

This risk-averse approach was evident in the party's decision last night to pick sitting MP Denise Roche over Swarbrick to run in the Auckland Central seat. It is a crucial seat for the Greens because it is a rich source of party votes - they received more votes than Labour there in 2014.

But with Labour's Jacinda Ardern no longer running in Auckland Central, the selection of Roche could be viewed as a lost opportunity to put up a young, higher-profile candidate against National's Nikki Kaye. Swarbrick has momentum after placing third in the mayoral race despite no political experience, no budget, and no party backing.

There is now simmering discontent among some parts of the party about its members' preference for experienced but unremarkable candidates. Swarbrick openly challenging a sitting MP for the Auckland Central nomination hints at this discontent.

Her challenge created the possibility of a rare, embarrassing deselection, and suggests an orchestrated move by some members to unseat Roche or at least rattle the established MPs.

Two of the party's senior MPs, Catherine Delahunty and Steffan Browning, are leaving at the general election, but several others are staying on and on past form will get high list placings.

With six or more bright, young candidates on the list in 2017, the party could be more ruthless about giving them a shot at Parliament.

- NZ Herald

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Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Isaac Davison is a political reporter based at the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 2012. He writes on a range of issues including housing, corrections, environment and conservation, and was previously the Herald’s environment and science reporter. He has a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Auckland and studied journalism at the University of Canterbury.

Read more by Isaac Davison

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