Departing Labour MP Louisa Wall: ‘This was not entirely my choice’

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Labour MP Louisa Wall
Labour MP Louisa Wall delivers her valedictory speech ... "To use a sporting analogy, I left it all on the field." Image: Screenshot / Parliament TV

RNZ News

The long-serving New Zealand MP Louisa Wall has fired a broadside at her own Labour Party as she leaves Parliament to take up a Pacific diplomacy role — using her valedictory speech to accuse the party president of leading a corrupt process.

Wall is leaving politics after 14 years — citing a legal battle in the lead-up to the 2020 election over the Manurewa seat as one of the reasons for leaving.

In the days leading up to her final speech at Parliament, she spoke out about a rift with the party’s leadership, claiming the Prime Minister told her directly she would never be a minister.

Today she slammed the Labour Party for its handling of the Manurewa electorate.

She accused the Labour Party president, Claire Szabó, of leading a “corrupt process”.

“When I was forced out of my electorate in 2020, by the unconstitutional actions of the party president Claire Szabó and some members of council, I was devastated.

“The president accepted a late nomination, did not share the fact of the late receipt with the council until questions were asked and then retrospectively tried to justify and legitimise her actions.”

Agreed to leave
Wall told the House at the conclusion of the spat, she agreed with the Labour Party to leave politics during this Parliamentary term.

“In 2020, I agreed to leave. Because irrespective of the merits of challenging actions, being in a team where there is no appetite for your contribution is not healthy.

“I took the opportunity to complete some of my ongoing work, including in the international advocacy space. I was placed on the list just below where I had been in 2017 and accepted that I was to resign as an MP during this term.”

Wall thanked MPs Michael Wood, Nanaia Mahuta and Tim Barnett for helping her reach this agreement but told the House she was not going of her own volition.

“I stand here today fulfilling my part of the agreement but I want to be very clear that this was not entirely my choice.”

As is custom on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was not in the debating chamber but deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson watched on.

Despite never holding a ministerial position, Wall has a long list of legislative achievements, including her successful campaign to legalise same-sex marriage.

‘Rapid-fire course’
She told MPs the journey to marriage equality was “a rapid-fire course in process and procedures” not universally supported within the Labour caucus.

“While the deputy leader of the caucus at the time wanted more recognition of civil unions I believed that advocacy for marriage equality was based on fundamental human rights and that civil unions became a stop gap measure because it was not clear that marriage would get over the line,” she said.

“When I expressed this view I was told that this would be the end of my career and I would be on my own.”

Wall said throughout her time in politics she had been able to advocate on housing, period poverty, surrogacy, alcohol policies, revenge porn and abortion safe zones.

With her family watching from the packed public gallery, she finished her speech on a positive note that paid tribute to her previous sporting career.

“So while there have been obstacles to face and overcome I leave knowing I did what I could within those constraints. To use a sporting analogy, I left it all on the field.”

Louisa Wall is taking up a newly-created role as ambassador for Pacific gender equality starting next month.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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