Labour excludes media from congress

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 13:49 27/06/2014

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The Labour Party will close most of its election-year conference to the media.

The three-day meeting is due to take place in Wellington on July 4 to 6.

Speeches by Labour leader David Cunliffe, president Moira Coatsworth, and Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten will be open for reporting. Cunliffe is expected to unveil new policy.

But a programme, circulated to media last night, shows meetings on Friday and a training day are closed to all but members.

Previously, most of the event has been open. However, rank and file remits - such as a quota for female MPs and on the Trans-Pacific Partnership - have brought internal divisions into the public arena.

Tensions over former leader David Shearer boiled over in 2012, with Cunliffe demoted for failing to demonstrate his loyalty.

Nationals' conference begins in Wellington today, with a major policy announcement from Prime Minister John Key expected on Sunday.

Much of the Green Party conference, held in the Hutt Valley this month, was also members only.

Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said the party was looking at making a "policy related speech" on Saturday.

"This is a congress not a conference.

"We don't do any of the party business in election year. It's really election related business. Saturday is essentially training for the election campaign managers and candidates.

"There's no remits, no internal party business it is entirely election focused... it's absolutely normal. I don't think it is reasonable for media to want to be in our training of our candidates."

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