Street's in pursuit of party vote for Labour

BILL MOORE
Last updated 12:58 24/06/2014

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Nelson-based Labour list MP Maryan Street has improved one place to 15th spot on the party list and is almost certain to return to Parliament for a fourth term.

Once high-ranking Labour members in safe electorate seats were taken out of the equation she was effectively in sixth spot, she said yesterday.

West Coast-Tasman electorate member Damien O'Connor, who stayed off the list last time after controversially saying it was dominated by "self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays", is back on, in 22nd spot. O'Connor thumped National's Chris Auchinvole to win the electorate back for Labour last time, but is facing a stiff challenge from former three-term Westland district mayor Maureen Pugh this year.

Street, in Parliament since 2007 and a former party president, is once again contesting the Nelson electorate but has said that her goal is to win back the party vote rather than to unseat the seemingly impregnable National MP Nick Smith.

Yesterday she said she had expected to stay in 16th spot and going up one place was "a good result".

"What I am pleased about is the injection of new people into the party list," Street said. "We've got a list that has in total 34 women and 30 men but we need to do that in order to get to the kind of gender balance we're aiming for eventually over time."

She was pleased to see TV presenter Tamati Coffey at number 30 - "an entirely winnable position" - and policy analyst Priyanca Radhakrishnan, at 23, was "a wonderful, wonderful candidate" who was willing to move from Wellington to anywhere where she could represent ethnic communities.

Both Radhakrishnan and O'Connor were likely to enter Parliament via the list if they didn't win electorate seats, Street said.

She said the fuss over Chinese businessman Donghua Liu's dealings with the party and leader David Cunliffe was a distraction that was frustrating to Labour and the public.

"Despite John Key's protestations, this is nothing like [National MP] Maurice Williamson interfering in a police case."

Questions about how much Liu gave to whatever parties were "a sideshow" and Labour was frustrated because it wanted to run a positive campaign about strong, long-term policies that weren't easy to get across.

"We just have to roll with the polls now. We have to learn from them and work out how to attract people to the policies that we think are important."

Street said the key issues in Nelson were: "Wages, too low; house prices, too high, jobs, not enough."

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, a Nelson Mail reporter in the 1980s, has opted off the Labour list, and will stand for a third term as the electorate member.

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- The Nelson Mail

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