Little changes tack, saying Davis and senior MPs should rank ahead of Jackson
Labour leader Andrew Little says potential candidate Willie Jackson should be ranked behind senior MPs, including Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, after earlier refusing to say where he stood on the issue.
He said foreign affairs spokesman David Parker and current Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard - who are both reliant on their list places to be re-elected - should also take precedent over Jackson as a first term Labour candidate.
"We have got to get David Parker up. He's a huge intellectual powerhouse for us. Trevor Mallard up because we want him as next speaker," Little said on Tuesday.
"We have got to get those experienced, skilled, long-standing MPs up because we have a place for them and jobs for them to do. And Kelvin Davis. He's our our most senior-ranked Maori MP and you'd expect that to continue and his standing in the caucus has to be reflected in the list."
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He said he had assured Jackson, who was a former Alliance MP and chairs the National Urban Maori Authority, that he would try to get him the highest list place "possible and credible".
"I've signalled that I am going to champion his cause for a good and winnable list placing because I think he has much to bring to the party in terms of his reach to a constituency that we are not presently reaching very well."
But Little said he was just one of 22 people in Labour who set list rankings.
He said he knew there were risks in bringing him on board, given his background including as a controversial radio host.
Christchurch East MP Poto Williams at the weekend publicly criticised the offer to Jackson, and said she could not "in good conscience support him" as her colleague because of the comments he made during an interview on his radio show relating to the so-called Roastbusters - a group of young men who allegedly tried to get under age girls drunk and sexually assault them.
"As the Labour Party Spokesperson for Family and Sexual Violence, I am concerned that Willie Jackson is becoming a Labour Party candidate with a prominent ranking on the list," she wrote.
He has apologised for his comments including in writing.
Little signalled Williams had been chastised during Tuesday's Labour caucus meeting for going public with her concerns.
"I am not being critical of Poto Williams and others who have raised the concerns about Willie Jackson. It's a perfectly legitimate thing to do. But we've got to make sure when those concerns are raised, especially by caucus members that caucus is the place to raise them."
He said the concern about Jackson was "not at all widespread".