By-election as Labour's Winnie Laban leaves Parliament

BY TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 12:05 10/08/2010

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A by-election is looming after Labour MP Luamanuvao Winnie Laban announced today she is leaving Parliament for a new career.

The Mana MP told caucus colleagues this morning she would be stepping down to take up the role of Assistant Vice Chancellor Pasifika at Victoria University.

Labour leader Phil Goff confirmed that Ms Laban's departure would mean a by-election in her safe Labour seat. Ms Laban won in 2008 with a 6155-strong majority.

Ms Laban said it had been "an enormous privilege" to serve as Labour MP for Mana over the last three elections but "I have worked out that it's time for me to step away from Parliament now".

"This enables me to continue my passion for Pacific people, young people and more importantly having a role in education outcomes that will lead to stronger economic development for the Pacific community."

Mr Goff said Labour was sorry to see Ms Laban go and the party would be looking to find a strong candidate for the seat.

This is the second by-election this term after Labour cruised home in former leader Helen Clark's safe seat of Mt Albert with new candidate David Shearer. There is also the possibility of by-elections in Te Atatu,  where the incumbent Chris Carter faces disciplinary action, and Manurewa, where Labour veteran George Hawkins is seeking a seat on the new Auckland super city.

Ms Laban was Pacific Island Affairs Minister in the last Labour Government and fought a high-profile battle against breast cancer in the lead-up to the last election.

There will be strong competition for the candidacy within Labour.

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