14 May 2014

President accused of abusing power

8:59 am on 14 May 2014

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.

Shane Taurima.

Shane Taurima. Photo: SUPPLIED

In a statement, the electorate committee said it was disappointed with the decision, and wanted Labour's council to review it. It said it continued to support Mr Taurima as a candidate and would be seeking further advice.

The decision was made after Mr Taurima was found to have used Television New Zealand resources for Labour Party campaigning.

A senior member on the electorate committee Shane Te Pou said there was a lot of hurt stemming from the decision to veto Mr Taurima's candidacy.

He told Morning Report there there was lot of ill feeling on the electorate committee and a lot of patch-up work needed to be done. Mr Te Pou said it was time to move on and it was highly likely nominations for the seat would reopen.

The background

Mr Taurima resigned as head of the Maori and Pacific Unit at Television New Zealand in February after it emerged he had hosted Labour Party meetings at TVNZ offices in August last year.

A subsequent investigation found no evidence of political bias in programmes Mr Taurima was involved in.

However, it found TVNZ resources were used inappropriately for Labour Party political purposes by Mr Taurima and three members of the unit - none of whom were still employed by TVNZ.

Mr Taurima required a waiver in order for his nomination to be accepted, as he had been a member of the party for less than one year when nominations for the candidacy opened.

The council decided granting Mr Taurima a waiver to run was not in the best interests of the party, because of the contents and conclusions of the report on his work at TVNZ.

The party is due to decide on Thursday whether Will Flavell will contest the seat for Labour, or whether the party would look at other candidates.

Party leader David Cunliffe said he did not rule out the possibility that Mr Taurima could be a Labour candidate in the future.

Labour's national council will meet on Thursday to discuss whether nominations for the Tamaki Makaurau seat will be reopened.

The now lone nominee, Will Flavell, told Morning Report he was not bothered by the situation.