30 Jul 2010

Carter stands by attack: 'Emperor's got no clothes'

10:00 pm on 30 July 2010

An unrepentant Chris Carter is insisting that Labour has no hope of winning the next election under Phil Goff, and says he has made a "political martyr" of himself in order to protect Labour's best interests.

Mr Goff meanwhile says the suspended MP no longer has a mandate in his Te Atatu seat and has signalled that Mr Carter should stand down as the electorate MP.

Mr Carter was suspended from caucus for circulating an anonymous letter detailing discontent with Mr Goff and predicting a leadership challenge.

He is vehemently standing by his attack on his party's leader, saying it was in Labour's best interests.

"I want Labour to win the election," he says, "and I don't think we can win it under Phil Goff, and it's time somebody in the party said 'Hey, the emperor's got no clothes'."

He's behaving irrationally, says Goff

Mr Goff says Mr Carter has been behaving irrationally, most likely because of pressure relating to his continued travel expenses, including a recent unsanctioned trip overseas.

He says Mr Carter took the trip during the last parliamentary recess without caucus approval, which is against caucus rules.

Labour Party president Andrew Little says many of Mr Carter's colleagues are concerned about his well-being.

New candidate selection required

When Labour's national council meets in a week's time it is almost certain to suspend Mr Carter's party membership. A new Te Atatu candidate would then have to be selected for the next election.

Radio New Zealand's political staff say it seems likely the party will look outside its caucus for a candidate.

Mr Carter says he'll stay as on as an independent MP until the next election, but will give his vote to Labour.

Carter defends China trip

Mr Carter is defending his recent trip. Initially it was understood the unapproved trip was to Tibet, but he says it was actually to Quanming in southern China.

It was a private trip in the holidays, he says, paid for by the Chinese Government; and he says he was told by deputy leader Annette King to keep it quiet because of the public attention on his travel and expenses.

Ms King denies that strenuously, however, saying that she advised Mr Carter not to blog ahead of a trip to the United Kingdom but that she never told him to conceal his trip.