12 Apr 2011

O'Connor apologises to Labour caucus

8:21 pm on 12 April 2011

Labour list MP Damien O'Connor on Tuesday apologised to caucus colleagues over his comments made about the influence of unions and gays on the party's list.

Labour leader Phil Goff says he has spoken pretty severely with Mr O'Connor who said that "a gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists" drew up the list.

The list was issued on Sunday. The party vote determines a political party's total number of seats and those on the list make up the numbers after electorate seats.

Damien O'Connor had already opted out of the rankings, as he was unhappy with his likely placing. The MP plans to stand in West Coast Tasman in the election on 26 November, a seat he lost in the last election.

On Tuesday, Mr O'Connor admitted that he was wrong to raise his concerns about the selection process in public, saying Labour is a broad church and he apologises for identifying unions and gays.

However, the MP says he still has concerns about the way the list is drawn up and he will raise them with the party.

Mr O'Connor says his apology is genuine and thinks it was accepted by the Labour caucus.

Charles Chauvel, one of the party's highest-ranking gay MPs, says he was offended by the comments but accepts the apology.

Mr Goff says the list process is bruising and there will always be winners and losers.

However, he says Mr O'Connor accepts that he has created a distraction from the issues that matter to the public.