Labour is poised to introduce new party rules to ensure half of its elected MPs are women by 2017 and would allow individual electorates to run “women only” candidate selections.
The proposed rule changes, to be decided at the party’s annual conference in November, would force the party’s list selection committee to ensure caucus would be 45 per cent woman in 2014 and 50 per cent by 2017.
In putting the list together the moderating committee would also have to take into account the electorate MPs that were likely to be elected, to ensure that balance.
A local electorate committee would be able to request that the NZ Council decide “only women may nominate for the position of Labour candidate for their electorate”.
That approval would override the right granted elsewhere in the rules for any member to be eligible for nomination.
The rules would also require a list that had a mix of ethnicity, gender, geographical spread, sexual orientation and disability representation.
Party secretary Tim Barnett said the 50 per cent target through the moderating committee was the big change, because everything flowed from that.
Its aim was to ensure a more equitable gender mix in caucus, which had been stuck at 35 per cent to the low 40 per cent for the last 20 years.
He said the proposed rule changes were circulated to members yesterday, and were to be released to the media later today but were provided early after a copy was obtained by right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.
Candidates for Maori electorates, and list-only nominees who were Maori, would be eligible to nominate for a separate Te Kaunihera Maori list that would be ranked in bands of two and would be incorporated into the final list selection process.
Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson said the aim was to achieve gender balance and the rule changes were proposed mechanisms to achieve that.
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor said he was confident his electorate would “not ask for something so stupid” as a women-only candidate selection.
List MP Clayton Cosgrove joked that he had been a Labour member for a long time and would do most things for the party but not “have the operation”.