The Auckland Labour list conference of 2017

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 am, April 2nd, 2017 - 23 comments
Categories: election 2017, labour, Politics - Tags: , , , ,

I went along to the Auckland Regional List Conference yesterday. I have been to every one since 2002 and I even had the privilege of chairing the 2011 version. This was one of the most stressful yet exhilarating weekends of my life as I oversaw a process that was huge on drama and pathos. It was fascinating watching the deal making and seeing what worked and who succeeded and witnessing the crushing of the political ambitions of quite decent people who unfortunately had no idea what they were letting themselves in for or how the system worked.

The 2014 list conference resulted in rule changes. Personally I could not understand why. Requiring aspiring politicians to front up to a auditorium full of members, do deals, negotiate among the power blocks of the South, the West and the Trade Unions and give a damn fine speech should not be considered too much of a demand. After all we are sending them off to Parliament where the ability to do deals and negotiate among the power blocks is a job requirement. And shrinking violets who are offended at the rough and tumble of grassroots politics should reconsider their career choices.

But these are the rules that we have.

One consequence is that feedback from members will be pretty chaotic. Under the old system and after the deals were done it was perfectly clear who the winners and who the vanquished were. Now there is a pile of random data which I understand will not be made public and which will go to New Zealand Council for their information when they make their decision.

The other strong impression of the day is that Labour has a fine set of candidates standing in seats they will not win but who deserve to be in Parliament.  People like Willow Jean Prime our Northland candidate.  She was the top polling candidate for her ward in the Far North District Council and is serving her second term.  She was reasonably highly placed last time and ranked 34th. Her legal skills and experience will help.

Another outstanding candidate is Lemauga Lydia Sosene. She is the current chair of the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board and is serving her third term. Pasefika is such an important aspect of Labour’s support that I believe that we need to bolster the number of Pacifeka MPs. Lydia is Samoan and part of Sua William Sio’s Mangere LEC.

A similar consideration is raised by Tongan Anahila Suisuiki who gave the speech of her life and really impressed me.

A first time candidate who also impressed was Jin An, a Korean lawyer currently working for MED. She previously was a police prosecutor officer and also involved in providing help for domestic violence victims on the North Shore.

And Romy Udanga, the party’s North Shore candidate, was also something of a revelation. He has worked hard to organise the Philippine sector in the party and has very strong organisational skills. His skills as a Journalist would not go amiss.

There were others with a compelling narrative, Kurt Taogaga who is Labour’s Helensville candidate, Marja Lubeck, an Etu Union organiser who spoke with real fire, Sunny Kaushal who has performed outstanding work for the party over a long period of time and Jesse Pabla a young Indian standing in the Papakura seat.  Sunny in particular deserves recognition for the tremendous work he has done for the party and also for the fact that he has considerable business experience.

Apart from Willow these candidates have not so far been talked about as being contenders for high list positions.  But they would all fit in well into a future Labour caucus.

If you need any further reason to work to increase Labour’s party vote meeting these candidates provides plenty.

23 comments on “The Auckland Labour list conference of 2017”

  1. Karen 1

    Thanks for this Mickey – but it has left me a bit confused about how the process is different from previous times. What do the candidates does now as opposed to before? Does every member there get to put in their preferred list order?

    A couple of spelling mistakes I noticed – should be Pasefika and Marja Lubeck.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Thanks Karen I will correct the typos …

      Current system is that each member gets a sheet with the candidates names and then lists them according to preference. I suspect the data will be very messy. The old system had the conference vote position by position for candidates if they were nominated.

  2. red-blooded 2

    This is the first time I’ve been involved in a list selection meeting (mine was in Otago-Southland). I was fine with the idea of individual members ranking the candidates. I do hope, though, that there’s a formula to even out the fact that some regions will have had significantly smaller numbers at their meetings, meaning that candidates in those regions will have fewer raw votes when compared to those from larger meetings. I’m thinking of an impressive woman who’s a GP in Invercargill, for instance. There are bugger all Labour voters there, but she made the valid point that having a Labour list MP based there may very well help address this.

    I’m sure there’s some way of factoring this in.

  3. The Fairy Godmother 3

    Some good points but the old way was very undemocratic. I went with the delegation from our electorate in 2014 and we found the deals had already been done. The order had already been decided. It was a waste of time for our members to even be there. This process is much better. The party will grow if members have a voice. I started getting more involved and keeping my membership updated when members had a vote in the leadership elections.

  4. Fisiani 4

    Does the process simply give the impression of democracy in making the list but given how many safe Labour seats there are how many will actually get in on the list? What if it’s only 3?

  5. billmurray 5

    A very good informative report.
    I sincerely hope Willow Jean Prime comes out with a high placing. She was thrown under a bus when the Labour party cowardly did not contest Northland pandering to Winston Peters.
    The party promised her a high placing in 2017, Jacinda Ardern also stated on TV3 that the Party owes her. She should get higher than Willie Jackson but I have my doubts about head office promises.
    Lets see.

    • mickysavage 5.1


      I can understand the reasons for allowing Winston to win. Willow took the decision remarkably well. It is tough as a candidate to have to throttle back.

      All the more reason she deserves a high list placing.

  6. Ad 6

    I hope actual votes are not reduced to “feedback”; feedback is that toilet paper they make you fill out during corporate restructures.

  7. Julia Schiller 7

    I was with you until Romy, who needs to appreciate that NZ is at least 50% agnostic and that belief in god is NOT one of our unifying party values.

    And true, Marja stood out as one of the few who discussed the plight of workers, however, living wage is only a piece of the battle. So many service workers, particularly those who aren’t unionised, also have to cope with insufficient and irregular work hours, lack of proper breaks, being expected to work extra hours unpaid (especially happens to those on student visas who are limited to a certain number of hours per week) and sadistic supervisors.

    Willow-Jean stood out for me as the brightest of the rising stars, but I also want to applaud Michael Wood, who had the moral fortitude to suggest that in the case of a recent dairy attack, the young perpetrators (age 13) are actually also victims. It is so important we resist the siren lure of “tough on crime” stances which drive policies that actually exacerbate the problem. Not the first time I’ve felt we could be looking at a future PM.

    • susanvize 7.1

      I think you will find that Marja is not standing solely on the principle of the living wage. She spoke about fair rights for workers and better contracts. That was one of the reasons she became a lawyer and why she sees the need to make systemic change by changing the government. We are very proud that she is standing for Rodney and in Etu.

    • mickysavage 7.2

      Do you think we should not seek the votes of Catholics? Much of the New Testament teachings are quite socialist.

  8. rhinocrates 8

    Good luck to them, but there’s the oxygen thieves like Mallard and Robertson filling the safe seats and high list positions and misogynists like Jackson and O’Connor being promoted as the party’s ‘hope’. Until they’re fertilising rose bushes Labour’s not going to broaden its representation.

    • Bill Drees 8.1

      Mallard still running? You are shitting me? I thought he had accepted that he will not be Speaker and that the Ambassadorship to Niue was the his for the asking?

  9. Dan 9


    Jin An was a police prosecutor in west Auckland, never a police officer.



  10. Ron Wilson 10

    It is certainly a better system now. Previously we had people grouped for the vote and then withdrawing to pop back in when they perceived the group was weaker. But the new system is only half way there. Every valid member of the party deserves their say on how our list is created.
    There is no reason why the list is created from regional conference and then the party members should be allowed to rank the final list. We can do it for party leader all member got a say. The final list should stand apart from minor massage to meet our constitution on ethnicity and gender. Maybe moving candidates up or down by one of two places.
    Why are we so frightened of democracy.

  11. Peroxide Blonde 11

    Mayja Lubeck is standing for Rodney and not Helensville. I understand she lives towards Wellsford, so not a one-election-wonder like some.

    I agree with you that Maeja Lubeck was stand-out. She had a very clear vision of what she wanted to achieve and said it. Many of the other candidates tried to be all things to all people. Good on you Marja.

    • Marja Lubeck 11.1

      Thank you for the nice comments and support. I was pleasantly surprised how collegial and respectful the event was, as I had prepared myself for lashings of ‘drama and pathos’. I guess running in Rodney will provide plenty opportunity for that!

  12. Michael 12

    On current polling how many Labour list candidates are likely to score seats in Parliament? Hardly any, IIUC. The electoral overhang does Labour no favours when it comes to promoting new talent.

  13. Marja Lubeck 13

    Thank you for the nice comments and support. I was pleasantly surprised at how collegial and respectful the event was, as I had prepared myself for a day filled with ‘drama and pathos’. Guess there’s still plenty time for that!

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