By VERNON SMALL and BERNARD ORSMAN
Prime Minister-elect Helen Clark has given her Labour Party president, Bob Harvey, a humorous dressing-down over his alleged down-trou.
Speaking before Labour's first post-election caucus yesterday, she said she had some advice for the Waitakere mayor, who also took a naked dip at the opening of a swimming pool at the Ranui Nudist Club in February.
"Keep your clothes on, love."
Helen Clark said she was not taking the incident too seriously.
"Some strange things happen out west sometimes.
"It seems to me if this happened, it happened in the context of Bob's work as a mayor in West Auckland. It does not involve any altercation over matters involved with the Labour Party."
Helen Clark stopped short of a full endorsement of Mr Harvey, saying she had no idea whether he would continue as president after the present term.
The party presidency comes up for election again late next year.
"If Bob put in a solid 18 months or two years as president, that would be a great contribution. I really haven't discussed with him whether he wants longer or not."
Asked if she had full confidence in him, she said: "I do have a lot of confidence in Bob as president."
The flamboyant mayor said yesterday that he was deeply disappointed Labour Party campaign manager Mike Williams had apologised to a West Auckland family for an incident he had accepted on hearsay.
"Mr Williams doesn't speak for me and I'm not apologising to anybody."
Mr Harvey was sticking by his denial of baring his buttocks after an altercation with Titirangi resident Chris Seagar on October 31.
Mr Seagar said he was walking his dog when he became involved in an argument with Mr Harvey, with whom he had clashed on council-related issues.
Mr Harvey said he was fearful of violence from a long-term opponent who "wastes no opportunity to be insulting and abusive."
Mr Seagar said yesterday that if Mr Harvey felt threatened he could have got in his car and driven off instead of exposing his buttocks in a public street. "It's utter bunkum. The man is an embarrassment to the entire country. Helen Clark says she values principles and integrity highly but she has members in her own organisation who don't share that view and this man is one of them."
Mr Harvey was embroiled in several incidents embarrassing to the party as it tried to run a risk-free election campaign.
He claimed the CIA had poisoned former Labour Prime Minister Norm Kirk, that Labour was treating him as an ATM for fundraising, and that Labour was running too many negative attack advertisements.
Shortly before becoming the Labour president in February, Mr Harvey said Labour should run a mile from the Alliance and the only coalition worth considering was with National.