The 97th Labour Party conference held in Christchurch over the weekend of 1-3 November 2013 approved a remit that required its party list to “fairly represent” gays and lesbians among its selected candidates. The inference implicit in the wording of the remit was that the existing Constitution did not allow for a “fair” representation of such people on its party list.
The Conference delegates voted to delete Rule 293 of its Constitution which had stated:
“There shall be no barriers to nominees on the grounds of sexual orientation or marital status” Gender, ethnicity, age and disability are active criteria listed above.”
Unhappy with the comprehensive and perfectly adequate protections afforded its openly “gay” aspiring candidates – protections that are fully in harmony with the Human Rights Act 1993, those seeking a more “pro-active” position on the advancement of gays and lesbians, rather than one based on merit alone, sought radical change to the Constitution.
A remit was proposed and passed to change the Constitution so that the party’s ruling New Zealand Council would require the list-ranking committee to pro-actively ensure that its list fairly represents “sexual orientations”, as well as tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, age and youth.
“The Moderating Committee shall be bound by the need to arrive at a list which:
- fairly represents tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, sexual orientations, and age and youth.
- ensures ………………….. etc
having due regard to priority orders that have emerged from the Regional List Conferences”.
Labour general secretary and former MP Tim Barnett, told the NZ Herald on 28 October 2013 that the proposed rule change around sexual orientation reflected changing views. He said that when he had been elected as MP for Christchurch Central in 1996, he was the first openly gay candidate elected to a seat. However, by October 2013, among the Labour Party caucus of 34 MPs, four were known to be gay: Grant Robertson, Maryan Street, Louisa Wall, and Meka Whaitiri. (Following the recent election, only Maryan Street failed to win a seat in parliament). GayNZ.com reported on 24/09/14: “Street, a three-term MP and past president of the Labour Party, says she is “devastated” at Labour’s collapse in the polls last weekend which saw her miss out on returning to Parliament.”
Grant Robertson (left) v David Cunliffe (right) – Game on
It would appear that in line with the clearly stated agenda of a party seen by NZ First leader, the Hon. Winston Peters to be comprised of “gays, lesbians and the loony intelligent left” (NZH 2/08/14), most political pundits are predicting that the Labour Party caucus will appoint an openly gay man, MP Grant Robertson, as its new leader to replace its incumbent leader David Cunliffe, following the Party’s disastrous loss in the recent elections.
Pro-gay lobby group GayNZ reported yesterday: “Robertson is openly-gay and as was the case when he was in the running for the Labour leadership last year, there have again been suggestions his sexuality could alienate some party supporters.”
A leadership team of Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern, to replace David Cunliffe and David Parker, has been a popular suggestion on social media. GayNZ reports that Chris Carter, “a gay former MP who was expelled from Labour for speaking out against its then leader, believes the party needs to unite behind David Cunliffe.”
1. Labour to look at ‘fairly representing’ gay members in Parliament. Tuesday Oct 29, 2013
2. Labour a party of ‘gays, lesbians, loony left’ – NZ First candidate. Sunday Aug 24, 2014
4. Robertson open to leadership bid 21/09/14 GayNZ.com
5. Ex-MP Carter backs David Cunliffe 22/09/14 GayNZ.com
6. Street: Difficult years ahead for gay issues 24/09/14 GayNZ.com
7. Robertson quiet on talk of leadership bid 26/09/14 GayNZ.com