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Get Carter?

Wed 16 Jun 2010 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

Chris Carter He is a man lauded with proudly representing the gay community, whose name is almost synonymous with the phrase 'New Zealand's first openly-gay MP', but has Chris Carter's long and admirable political career reached a turning point? The Te Atatu MP's scamper from the press gallery pack through the halls of Parliament made ideal primetime news footage last night. Journalists accused him having a 'hissy fit' and it being a case of 'run, Carter, run', as they attempted to confront him over the breaches of spending rules and hefty travel bills, that saw him demoted from the front bench and stripped of his beloved Foreign Affairs portfolio. Carter has been in Parliament for seventeen years, six years of which he spent as a minister. He is well-known to be a proud Rainbow-flag waving MP. However, he has more recently felt as though this has made him a target, telling the Herald on Sunday this past weekend that he was sick of being attacked as a "luxury-loving gay boy". Last August he spoke out about the intense media coverage of his travel costs, claiming it was because he was gay and travelled with his partner. "If I was a heterosexual minister taking my husband or wife with me, it would be of no interest," he said. Yesterday, events came to a head when a tired-looking Carter emerged from caucus and resolutely refused media questions, only stating he regretted his demotion. This didn't impress his leader, Phil Goff, who angrily sent the senior MP home to consider his future and urged him to apologise. Within an hour, Carter released a statement, apologising and saying: "I acknowledge that my temperament when under pressure can make me appear as if I am not contrite or embarrassed. I assure the New Zealand public I am." Carter is now on stress leave and Goff appears open to his return, saying it is up to the MP whether or not he has a future with the party. Chief NZ Herald political commentator John Armstrong opened his column today with a blunt interpretation of the situation:"When your leader sends you home from Parliament and tells you to consider your political future, you should assume you probably haven't got one." Some at Parliament believe Labour appears to have almost hung Carter out to dry, giving him little direction or support after his demotion. The sense is his time is up and the party is ready for him to move on, or at least step back and allow fresh players to come through. National list MP and Te Atatu candidate at the last election, Tau Henare, has gone so far as to challenge Carter to resign and force a by-election. Glbt Aucklanders spoken to by GayNZ.com at K' Rd's Naval   

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Wednesday, 16th June 2010 - 3:01pm

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