JP claims row bizarre: Smith

Last updated 13:00 05/12/2013

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National's Nelson MP Nick Smith has again hit back at claims by Nelson-based Labour list MP Maryan Street that political reasons motivated him to turn down two men she nominated to become JPs for political reasons, saying the dispute is "bizarre".

JP nominations are only accepted from the Member of Parliament in the electorate, or from a list MP if endorsed by the electorate member.

Dr Smith turned down union official Neville Donaldson and Nelson Primary Health Organisation chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs after Ms Street nominated them, saying there were already sufficient JPs where the two live and that the JP association had advised it wouldn't support the nominations.

But Ms Street believes that the rejections were made on political grounds and yesterday said that fellow Labour MPs agreed. Having a nomination from a list MP turned down was "unheard of"' she said.

Dr Smith said today he had followed the JP Best Practice Manual issued by the previous Labour Government by not liaising with the Nelson-Tasman JPs' Association.

"I did and they advised against the two appointments she was wanting. She could have saved this manufactured controversy if she had done what the manual says MPs should do." He said other National MPs had also knocked back nominations from list MPs for similar reasons.

Ms Street has said she will be seeking information from the Justice Department on Dr Smith's nominations through an Official Information Act request. Dr Smith says any scrutiny will show that he has acted in a "totally apolitical, community-minded way".

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- The Nelson Mail

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