18 Oct 2022

Gaurav Sharma resigns as an MP months after expulsion from Labour

3:21 pm on 18 October 2022
Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Hamilton West MP Gaurav Sharma, who was removed from Labour's caucus in August for breaching confidentiality and losing his colleagues' trust, says he has resigned and plans to start a new centrist party.

Sharma said he has been informed the Labour Party and the prime minister plan to use the waka-jumping legislation to remove him from Parliament six months before the next election, and decided to resign as an MP to ensure a by-election.

However, the prime minister rejected that, saying the party is not considering using the legislation, and Sharma's decision would unnecessarily cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sharma announced the news of his resignation in a social media post this afternoon.

"I have sincere concerns that this underhanded move will mean people of Hamilton West will have no voice in Parliament for 6 months preceding the next General Election," he said.

He said he would be running as a candidate in the by-election.

"I will be running as a candidate in the by-election because I do want to send a message to the government that you can't silence the voice of the common man," he said.

"Concurrently with the by-election, my intention is to launch a new centrist party with focus on outcomes and action rather than on ideologies."

He told reporters this afternoon that as well as this he had written a letter

"My boss is not Jacinda Ardern, my boss is the Speaker of the House who has received a written resignation letter," he said.

"Today is my last day."

He suggested there was nothing behind the timing of his announcement, which was published on social media during Question Time.

"It's just a matter of I have to resign at some point. I decided to do it through my Facebook social media - you know, the prime minister uses her page to do a lot of announcements as well - I used the hot pink colour because that's what I intend to use for my campaigning."

Labour rejects waka-jumping plan as speculation

In a statement as Labour's leader, Jacinda Ardern said the party's position on Sharma and the waka jumping provisions had not changed.

"We have not, and are not, considering invoking the waka jumping provisions, nor do I know the basis of Gaurav Sharma's speculation," she said.

Jacinda Ardern

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"Gaurav may wish to reconsider his decision given he is unnecessarily costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars to trigger a by-election he then intends to stand in.

"We consider it unnecessary and wasteful given the General Election is scheduled for 2023."

Sharma told reporters this afternoon he had been contacted by members of Labour's New Zealand council - the party's national governing body - who had informed him about plans to use the waka-jumping legislation

"Members of New Zealand council from the Labour Party have been talking to me, just like the members of Parliament, and they have said that the party's next step is to remove me as a member of Parliament but they want to do it at a time when it is six months or less from the general election which means there will not be a by-election.

He would not name his sources and was unable to provide any hard evidence of his claims.

"This is from reliable sources who've been talking to me, similar to members of Parliament who were talking to me when I was expelled from caucus," he said.

"They are part of the whole process of what the next step is going to be - it's not speculation."

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said he had heard nothing about any such plan.

"Not that I'm aware of at all. I'm not aware of any discussion about that whatsoever," he said.

Grant Robertson

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"He's taken his own decision and that will trigger a by-election and we'll deal with that, but as far as I'm aware that particular claim he's made has no basis whatsoever."

Senior Cabinet minister Chris Hipkins said he also was not aware of any such discussions.

A spokesperson confirmed that while Sharma had been removed from the caucus, he had not been removed from the party at this point.


Sharma's resignation will trigger a by-election before the general election next year. He said he planned to run as an independent, but his new party would be contesting the general election.

Sharma was not concerned that his campaign would not have the resources of the Labour Party.

"Elections aren't won just on money, what it takes is volunteers and a lot of passion. And my thing is going to be getting more people around me to help with the election and see where it goes.

"The party doesn't want a by-election but they also don't want me sitting at the back and asking all the questions of the government."

Robertson said he had not yet considered Labour's chances of winning in the electorate.

"I haven't really given that any consideration, I'm very proud of what the government's been doing and I think it's benefited the people of Hamilton but obviously that will be a matter for when the by-election occurs."

The resignation will leave Hamilton West without an MP until the by-election is held. The last by-election - in Tauranga - was held about three and a half months after Simon Bridges announced his intention to resign.

Sharma's resignation post included a lengthy essay, setting out context for his decision, his plan for the by-election and defending the cost of the by-election.

He did this by referring to other spending by the government he said was wasteful, pointing out Labour MP Paul Eagle's mayoral campaign which would also have led to a by-election, citing other examples of by-elections, and the salary of former Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard.

He also criticised the processes of the Labour Party, which has been assessing whether to remove him from the party as a whole. He said a three-person panel had been assigned to assess whether he had brought the party into disrepute.

He said he had raised concerns about two of the members of that panel, because they had been present at the meeting where he was expelled, saying this meant they had a conflict of interest.

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