| Much controversy has surrounded Louisa Wall's elevation up the Labour Party list, and parliamentary re-entry, following the sad demise of Darren Hughes. But how much of this is legitimate?
There is nothing within the Electoral Act 1993, which established the ground rules for parliamentary list composition under MMP, which mandates that a political party's list needs to be inflexible and fixed in the same order that it was during the most recent general election. People move on after they leave Parliament, whether as a result of retirement, electoral defeat or resignation due to political 'scandal.' They end up in various executive or senior management roles, or highly-ranked public sector or interest group responsibilities if they belong to National or Labour. Thus it is within Judith Tixard, Dave Hereora and Mark Burton.
By comparison, Louisa Wall is highly regarded within the current party organisation and parliamentary caucus. Significantly, none of the media coverage to date has mentioned that in addition to her past professional sportswoman status as a former Black Fern and Silver Fern, and George Hawkins' likely successor in the safe Labour seat of Manurewa upon his retirement at the end of this parliamentary term, and her Distribution and Service Workers Union endorsement, Louisa is also New Zealand's first out Maori lesbian MP. Have we finally reached the stage where lesbian and gay sexual orientation is normalised and unremarked upon?
Perhaps not. To its credit, National and centre-right political commentators haven't raised the issue of Louisa's sexual orientation, but it might well be implicit in their criticism of the flexibility of the Labour Party list and its ability to attract high-calibre LGBT candidates. While National has moved in the direction of greater ethnic diversity within its current caucus, Chris Finlayson remains their only out LGBT MP. Granted, he is high calibre himself and will probably be Key's first choice as Minister of Justice should National form the core of the next government. He'll probably also be on National's negotiating team if they have to sit down with the Maori Party for coalition talks, given that his current Treaty Negotiations portfolio would be a significant asset in this context. But, given that, and given the British Conservative Party's abundance of LGBT MPs within its current caucus, why is it that National is so tardy when it comes to that measure of representative equality?
Perhaps Phil Goff is being too cautious, as well. One would have thought that he'd enjoy pointing out that National and ACT have had their own manifold problems with their own party list selection procedures, given the demise of Richard Worth (National) and David Garrett (ACT). Other than as time-servers and pressure group representatives, how did their particular defects escape inside party selection process scrutiny?
Or is National really that threatened by witnessing someone of Louisa's calibre and expertise returning to Parliament, probably into a significant portfolio come the next centre-left government? Craig Young - 6th April 2011