from KiwiBlog by Cr Chris Milne

A great mystery of 2022 is how it came to be that the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt Mayors formed polar opposite views on Three Waters.

Three public opinion polls in the two cities have revealed strong resident opposition to the Labour Government’s centralisation of water management, including 50% iwi control through co-governance.

So how is it that, despite public opposition in both cities, Mayor Wayne Guppy of Upper Hutt is opposed but Mayor Campbell Barry is not?

The answer is pretty straight-forward. In 2019 Cr Campbell Barry campaigned for the Hutt City mayoralty under a Labour ticket. What the public were never told is that the Labour Party exacts a high price from candidates who use their trademark.

It will surprise most people to learn that the Labour Party requires that candidates using the Labour logo sign a pledge to support and implement Labour policy irrespective of the views of local residents. Further, all Labour candidates in a local body election pledge to block vote on issues of Labour policy.

The rewards for this abdication of local loyalty are political career opportunities and campaign assistance – databases, email systems, door knocking volunteers, billboard teams and social media support. One recent bauble was Mayor Barry’s appointment to the Labour Government’s Three Waters review taskforce, a body that reported back very recently with, you guessed it, no substantial changes to the policy opposed by the majority of Lower Hutt’s residents.

The Labour Party Constitution in force during the 2019 council elections contains Rule 95 (linked below):

R95: Any person accepting nomination as a Party candidate shall sign a pledge ….R95(e): I will faithfully observe the Constitution and Policy of the Party and the policy of the party for the [Lower Hutt] district.

R95(f): If elected, I will vote … in accordance with the decisions [of the Labour ticket members].

And the following rule dictates that Labour candidates will support each other no matter what:R95(c): I will wholeheartedly support the duly selected candidates of the Party in the [Lower Hutt] district.

And do note that the first Objective (R3) of the Labour Party is “to elect [candidates] for the purpose of giving effect to Party policy and principles”. Rule 152 says that “The Policy Platform is binding on … all Labour Party members elected to public office who describe their affiliation as “Labour” or “Labour Party” on the ballot.

Labour candidates are subject to a Disciplinary Process with multiple possible sanctions if they breach their pledge [R309]:

Rule 313: Disciplinary action shall be applied for and ruled upon on the grounds of:

(a): contravention of the Principles, Rules and Policies of the Party as contained in the current Constitution and policy documents of the Party, including under (c) – being automatically suspended for two years for publicly campaigning against another Labour candidate.

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The four KCDC Councillors who are known Labour Party members are Rob McCann, Janet Holborow (who was on the Labour list in the 2020 general election), Jackie Elliot and Sophie Handford. Guru and Prvanov might be, but we don’t know for sure. Only the first ran under the Labour banner in 2019 and we’ve heard murmurings that local Labour members are unhappy with his support for the Gateway and closure of the Waikanae recycling facility. —Eds