Labour's Lesley Soper challenged

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 12:47 03/02/2014

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The fate of Labour's Invercargill candidacy will be left to the quandary of party processes after another city resident entered the contest.

Michael Gibson will challenge Lesley Soper for the position, in what the party have dubbed ''democratic process''.

The two will need to pull together party member votes before a selection panel makes the final decision. 

New Zealand Labour Party regional representative Glenda Alexander said contest was healthy for democracy.  

''We know people were looking for a change in the area, this is a chance for someone to front up and put their money where their mouth is,'' Ms Alexander said. 

The uncharacteristic decision to reopen nominations could be perceived as a breach of the democratic process, she said. 

''We really wanted to make sure things were more transparent this time ...we were criticised for rushing the nominations before Christmas.''   

Michael Gibson's nomination was received on Thursday evening by Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett in the ''nick of time'', a spokesperson said. 

Mr Gibson said he had not considered nominating before the first round closed late last year, but after the only candidate was informally announced in early January, he thought he could offer something different. 

''I wanted a chance to rejuvenate Labour here [in Invercargill] ... and I think I can really overhaul the party,'' he said.

Ms Soper said she felt quite relaxed about the new nomination.

''The goal posts were shifted, but the competition is healthy for democracy,'' she said.

New Zealand Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said the party runs a rigorous candidate selection process. 

''The departure of an incumbent MP opens up new opportunities, and we wanted to ensure that we included anyone with an interest in being considered for candidacy.'' 

In December last year the party said all nominations would be confirmed by late February but yesterday Glenda Alexander said it could be as late as March.

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- The Southland Times

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