Did the Labour Party fail to follow fair process such that its decision not to allow Shane Taurima to contest the candidacy for Auckland’s Tamaki Makaurau seat can be challenged in the courts, or did TVNZ’s report into Mr Taurima’s behaviour justify the party council’s decision?
Allegations have been made by Shane Taurima’s advocate that the Labour Party used the excuse of the TVNZ review of Mr Taurima’s alleged conflict of interest to side-line him in favour of another higher-profile candidate, Julian Wilcox from Maori Television. I do not know the truth of these allegations. But I have read the TVNZ report, and I can tell you what the courts can do if a political party has not followed the process in its own constitution. …
Although, the Labour Party is unincorporated, the courts can intervene to ensure it followed its own constitution. Rule 240 of the Labour constitution says “Any bona fide member of the Party or Affiliated member of the New Zealand Labour Party for at least one year immediately prior to the date of the calling for nominations shall be eligible for nomination as a parliamentary candidate.” So Mr Taurima was prima facie ineligible because he had not been a member long enough.
But Rule 241 states that “Waivers to the length of membership requirement may be granted by the New Zealand Council. The selection meeting shall be notified of any waiver granted for any nominee seeking selection at that meeting. Such notification shall be provided formally in the notice to nominees and the notice to the local party members about the selection meeting and verbally by the chair both before and after all nominees have addressed the meeting.”
The Labour Party Council resolved that granting Mr Taurima the waiver was not in the best interests of the party, and in reaching that resolution took into account the contents and conclusions of the TVNZ report. It has been suggested Mr Taurima might take the matter to the courts. But courts have traditionally been wary of substituting their judgment for that of a political party on matters political.
I doubt Taurima will take Labour to court, let alone win. But some are unhappy. RNZ reports:
A former Labour MP for Tamaki Makaurau has accused the Labour Party president of abusing her power over the Shane Taurima case. It follows a request from the Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee for a review of the Labour national council decision not to let Mr Taurima stand.
John Tamihere told Morning Report that independent sources have confirmed party president Moira Coatsworth met with another broadcaster, Julian Wilcox.
“It’s OK for a president to shoulder tap a high profile candidate or nominee like a Wilcox, but where it goes a bit awry is when you use your authority and power to then skew the scrum completely by taking out a major adversary on the pretext of an error of judgement in his employment” he said.
Mr Tamihere went on to say he believed Mr Taurima had good grounds for a judicial review of the Labour Council decision.
Matthew Hooton in a paywalled article at NBR notes that almost all of the Labour Party hierarchy must have known Shane was running the Tamaki Makaurau electorate out of TVNZ. The leader even attended a hui hosted by Taurima. So can they use the report to veto him, when they had implicitly condoned his activities previously?
UPDATE: In the article by Mai Chen, there is a section I did not quote (as it is on another topic) but has caused some confusion. Mai has said the disclosure limit for donations is $14,999 for parties and 1,499 for candidates. This is saying that donations of $15,000 and $1,500 must have their identities disclosed. This is incorrect. It is donations *in excess* of $15,000 and $1,500 respectively that must have the donor disclosed.