Loyalty counts for Labour stalwart

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Labour Party long-termer Don Farr, Carterton (left) receives a gold pin from Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Labour Party long-termer Don Farr, Carterton (left) receives a gold pin from Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

Carterton's Don Farr has a less-than-complimentary word for those who shed the Labour Party when MMP came along.

Mr Farr, a member of the party for 44 years, was honoured for his outstanding and long service with a rare gold pin, presented at the Labour Electorate Committee (LEC) annual general meeting on Sunday at the Senior Citizens Club in Featherston.

Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard performed the presentation.

Mr Farr started in Labour in 1972 as a member of a campaign team in Birkenhead, Auckland.

In 1984, he took over management and planning of the Trades Council's team of 11 union organisers, dedicated to the toppling of the Muldoon government.

He was chairman of the Island Bay LEC, then operated as a member of campaign teams in Wellington Central.

Mr Farr has been a general secretary of Finsec, the finance union, but took up party leadership roles again in 2008 after retiring to Wairarapa, which did not have a Labour Party branch.

He became the chairman and later secretary of Wairarapa LEC, campaign manager in the 2011 general election, and a member of the campaign team for the 2014 election.

"And here's a little gem for you -- I was an actor in 1972 and I and three others formed Actors Equity," he said.

That formation suited his Labour philosophies, "of decent terms and conditions for actors", and he worked on negotiations for employment agreements for television and radio -- a link to gaining political support.

He said he has "never wavered" from Labour, and he talks of "characters" like Richard Prebble who took "fairly right-wing positions".

He believes "enormous divisions" in Labour in the '80s was the end of Prime Minister David Lange.

But he is particularly scathing of former Labour Party faithful -- "b*******" -- who saw an opportunity to try their hand when MMP came along.

"I really resented those people who left Labour to form other parties in order to teach Labour a lesson," he said.

"As a result, we got a conservative government.

"My focus was to stay in the Labour Party and try and fix it. You don't walk off and join other parties. It's slog, it's hard slog."

But he said he valued the diversity of MMP.

"When you only have two parties, it forces people into moulds that they were unhappy with."

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