Laila Harre to lead Internet Party

06:54, May 28 2014
Laila Harre
LAILA HARRE: New Internet Party leader?

Former Cabinet minister and Alliance leader Laila Harre is set to become the Internet Party leader, and Willie Jackson is not ruling out the possibility of joining her.

Harre would not answer calls today, but sources close to Harre confirmed the selection and others have refused to rule her out.

The party leader is set to be announced tomorrow.

Party spokesman John Mitchell refused to comment, saying it was "speculation at this point".

Mana leader Hone Harawira also declined to comment.

Harre was last an MP in 2002, when she led the split in the Alliance away from then leader Jim Anderton.


After losing the Waitakere seat in the 2002 election, she stepped down as leader of the Alliance, to be replaced by Matt McCarten, now Labour chief of staff.

Since then, Harre has had union-related roles. In 2012, she was employed by the Green Party after working for the International Labour Organisation in Fiji from 2010.

Broadcaster and former MP Jackson praised the selection of his former colleague and admitted he was tempted to run himself.

Jackson said he had considered standing for Mana in 2011 and, while he had not given it serious consideration this year, he was not ruling it out.

"It's tempting but I haven't thought about it seriously at this stage," he said.

He cited frustration at Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples' Maori language strategy and a lack of quality Labour candidates after broadcasters Shane Taurima and Julian Wilcox were ruled out of the Tamaki Makaurau contest as reasons to consider a run.

He supported the Maori Party candidate Rangi McLean, however, and he would also consider throwing his support behind him in September.

Jackson said Harre was a "darling of the Left" who had impressed in Parliament and who people wanted to see back in politics.

"I think it's a brilliant move by the Internet Party and Mana ... because what a great lineup in terms of Hone, Annette Sykes and Laila and I'd say a lot of working-class people will see a real option now in terms of them and, of course, you've got [activist and Mana member John] Minto too."

On top of Harawira and Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom's appeal, the party would attract 3 per cent of the vote "minimum", Jackson said.

"I think they could get ... three maybe four MPs at least."

Hone Harawira's Mana Party formally announced its co-operation with the Internet Party yesterday.

The parties will contest this year's election in a party to be called Internet-Mana.

Mana has also been forced into a major concession, giving the second place on the combined list to the leader of the Internet Party, meaning it is less likely Mana will get the second person on the Mana list – president Sykes – into Parliament.

Internet mogul Dotcom founded the Internet Party, but has remained independent of the party's workings.

President Vikram Kumar said Dotcom was "very much still the party's visionary".

Dotcom this month donated $250,000 to the party's coffers.

Harawira said at a press conference yesterday that the leader the Internet Party had chosen was credible and experienced, which was a significant factor in him conceding the second-place spot on the list.


Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said Harre had resigned from the Greens in December.

"She decided that she wanted to move on to other things and do other work," she said.

She was not concerned that Harre had taken trade secrets with her, saying Harre was "a trustworthy person" who had "every democratic right to be part of another party and to lead it if she wants to".

Harre was not being lined up as a Green Party candidate and had not spoken with Turei about the Internet Party.

"I've only heard what you've heard, which is on the Twitter," Turei said.

She was not concerned that Harre's defection would take votes from the Greens.


National minister Steven Joyce said Harre would be "crushed between two rather large egos".

The union was unlikely to succeed.

"I think you've got some very interesting and largely opposite forces in play there," he said.

"The only reason they're around each other is that they're trying to see each other as a vehicle into Parliament."

NZ First leader Winston Peters called it "match fixing".

"Match fixing doesn't win elections," he said.

"I've been around a long time and I know what a match fix looks like.

"It's when you go out and without going to the electorate you organise for the three months, four months beforehand the outcome. This is match fixing."