MP removed from Parliament for wearing rugby shirt

WRONG ATTIRE: Otago South Labour MP Clare Curran.
WRONG ATTIRE: Otago South Labour MP Clare Curran.

Labour MP Clare Curran says she was surprised to be thrown out of the House for wearing a Highlanders' rugby shirt and believes it was an "over reaction" from Speaker Lockwood Smith.

The Dunedin South MP appeared at Parliamentary questions this afternoon wearing the team's old blue, gold and maroon kit in protest at the new lime green colour.

Highlanders management controversially announced last week the team would wear a green stripe from next season. 

Speaker Lockwood Smith declared the shirt violated Parliament's strict dress codes and ordered Curran to leave.

Parliament's dress code dictates male members must wear a tie or jacket buttoned up to the neck. Women must wear ''normal business attire'' however there is no specific detail on what is allowed.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei left the House with Curran.

Shortly after Curran said she promised to wear the shirt during an interview on Radio Dunedin last week.

"There's a lot of feeling in Dunedin about the changing of the brand and I got behind it last week when I really couldn't understand why the brand was being changed, what the rationale was for it and questions about whether there was a plan to move the franchise north."

The change has been wildly unpopular in the deep south, with various polls showing around 90 per cent disapproval, while a Facebook group against the change has more 'likes' than the Highlanders' official Facebook page and an event against the change has over 11,400 people 'attending'.

Her ejection from Parliament highlighted the lack of rules around what women should wear in the House, she said.

"I certainly never expected to be thrown out of the House for being a woman wearing a football shirt. I think it was an over reaction."

She said she was surprised and would consider whether she would change and return to Parliament this afternoon.

Turei later tweeted saying it was an example of sexism in Parliament continuing. "Has Ross Robertson ever been scolded for his sports team scarves let alone kicked out? No."

Dr Smith told Curran if a male MP entered the debating chamber wearing a soccer or rugby top they'd be asked to leave. ''In the interest of fairness....the rules should be consistent on either side.''

He asked Curran to leave and return dressed appropriately,  ''should she wish.''

''It's all I'm asking, it's not a big call. This House has certain dress standards.''

He said he didn't interfere with her right to ask a question - and allowed her to finish before ejecting.

Fellow Labour MP Trevor Mallard said it was important to have standards made clear for women in the House. He said former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson regularly appeared in a tracksuit and was allowed to remain.

Around 35 minutes before she was removed from the House, Curran tweeted "Wearing #highlanders shirt in question time today. proudly".
As the drama unfolded, MP Tau Henare tweeted "Go on @clarecurranmp leave."

He then sent a further message saying: "I love how the Labour Party supported one of their own when she was told to take the Highlanders "old" jersey off @clarecurranmp."

Act MP Heather Roy also joined in on the online conversation, tweeting "Yes but rugby jersey is much better than Judith Tizard bursting out of her jacket to display NZ Music Month tshirt sev[en] yrs ago."

National MP Jackie Blue last year showed her support for the national soccer team by wearing an All Whites jersey with pearls in the House.