The threat of a court case played out in the public eye stems from the party’s decision to accept a late nomination from lawyer and recently-appointed Waitematā DHB board member Arena Williams, seen as a viable threat to oust the incumbent.
A supporter of Wall said some in the party were upset by how the MP had been treated during the selection process, given her experience and advocacy on LGBT issues.
There was a feeling that Labour’s national headquarters was overreaching into the local selection process to push out candidates who senior MPs did not like, or who were not fully compliant with the messaging from the top of the party.
Newsroom understands Wall’s partner, lawyer Prue Kapua, contacted Labour’s governing body, the New Zealand Council, threatening legal action if Williams’ application was not declined.
After taking advice from a QC over the weekend, the party’s executive has formed the view that its position is defensible, leading to the prospect of a showdown in the High Court.
Parties set a deadline for nominations. It is a specific date and time. If you get it in one minute before you are fine. One minute late and you miss out. That is the nature of deadlines. The Electoral Commission doesn’t accept a nomination for example if you are half an hour late with it.
Arena Williams did not get her nomination in by the required time. So it should be an open and shut case.
But Arena is very close to senior Ministers such as Grant Robertson (who got her appointed to a District Health Board) and someone pressured Party HQ to accept her late nomination.
That reeks of the party hierarchy ignoring their own rules to favour a hand chosen candidate over a sitting MP.
The obvious solution is to move forward with a selection between the two valid nominations of Ian Dunwoodie and Louisa Wall. Williams will no doubt get parachuted into another seat at some stage and will learn the value of getting your nomination in on time.
Of course if Labour really are so desperate to get Williams in, they’ll let this go to court which to me seems like a lose lose for everyone.