Carter back, and back in firing line

Now that Chris Carter is well enough to be back at work at Parliament, the Labour organisation is making plans for him to front up and explain his actions and face possible expulsion from the party.

Mr Carter was expelled from the Labour caucus in June following an attempt to discredit leader Phil Goff by sending media an anonymous letter saying a coup was imminent with some MPs having no confidence in Mr Goff and Labour was going to lose next year's election. He was granted two months stress leave after being sprung, but returned to Parliament yesterday after that leave ran out.

Party president Andrew Little said Mr Carter would now be expected to front up to the New Zealand Labour Council and a meeting would be called in the next two or three weeks.

Sanctions ranged from expulsion or suspension down to a warning.

"It's a matter for the council to decide once they've heard from Chris or his representatives," Mr Little told NZPA.

"He's been unwell and been away. Now that he's back I think it opens the way for us to now set up a proper process and get it dealt with."

Mr Carter spent today holed up in his new office on a different floor from the Labour Party. He issued a statement this afternoon saying he still considered himself a Labour MP.

Speaker Lockwood Smith has said that as far as Parliament was concerned, Mr Carter was now an independent MP.

Mr Carter said his nomination to be the Labour candidate in the Te Atatu seat -- which he currently holds -- at the next general election remained "at this stage valid".

"I will determine whether I continue with this nomination in the next few weeks."

He said he had a dispute with the current parliamentary leadership -- not the party itself.

"I consider myself to be a Labour MP, still, and I totally support the principles and values of the Labour Party. Naturally I will be voting with Labour on all occasions for the remainder of this Parliament."

Mr Goff told NZPA that there was no way back for Mr Carter after the letter incident.

"It was deceitful, it was treacherous, it was dishonest, it wasn't even correct, and it was utterly unacceptable to every member of the Labour Caucus."

National's Maurice Williamson managed to remain in his party after publicly criticising Bill English when he was party leader.

Mr English said today that his party dealt with that issue but Labour seemed to be struggling to get their problems under control.

"The issue seems to have dragged on, he's been away for a couple of months and they still haven't sorted it out."

Mr Goff said there was no parallel between Mr Carter and Mr Williamson.

"What Chris did was unanimously condemned by the caucus and by the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party. What Chris Carter needs to do now is front up to the New Zealand council to make his case so it can make a decision about his future within the Labour Party... the decision has already been made about his future in the caucus, he's gone he won't be coming back."

Prime Minister John Key was amused by the situation.

"He (Mr Carter) doesn't seem to be able to work out if he's part of Labour or not. He better be careful or he will end up as part of ACT -- they're looking for someone."

ACT MP David Garrett resigned from Parliament today.




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