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All eyes on Hamilton West as by-elections are announced for December 10, 2022

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 20 October 2022

Gaurav Sharma resigns; by-elections announced (RNZ Photo by Phil Smith)

The political environment in Hamilton has heated up over the last twenty-four hours, and what unfolds from here on will be a closely watched scenario.

With all parties involved to ensure a mandate in their favour and the constituents gearing up to have their say, this would be one of the most interesting elections in recent times.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she had received advice on the potential timing from the Cabinet Office and the Electoral Commission.

“That advice gave me a limited number of possible options, given the time of year that we are in, public holidays and so on, and of course needing to take into account the final tally of votes being delivered before we move into significant end-of-year events,” she said.

“I am still disappointed on behalf of taxpayers that we are having this by-election in the first place. It has been triggered by the fact that the independent member for Hamilton West has decided to resign to run as an independent member for Hamilton West. That seems to me to be a complete waste of money.” Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern said that Labour was going through its usual process ahead of the Hamilton West by-election.

“I do not think anyone thinks the scenario that Hamilton West has just gone through has been particularly edifying. I am incredibly disappointed about what a Labour candidate has done, so, I am sure that may well be an issue for us. But of course, these are the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We will stand proudly on our record as a government, and what we have been doing in the Hamilton region” she said.

Earlier this morning, The New Zealand Council, Labour’s governing body, announced that it has expelled Gaurav Sharma from the Party with immediate effect.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is disappointed on behalf of taxpayers.

In a statement, Labour Party President Claire Szabó said the Council “took this decision because it found Gaurav Sharma had brought the Party into disrepute,” a breach of the Party’s constitution.

Ms Szabó published a summary of the events leading up to the decision, saying that Dr Sharma had participated actively in the investigation and provided oral and written accounts of his perspective to the investigating panel as well as the full Council.

She said “When we communicated with Dr Sharma on Saturday, 15 October, he said that he had recently experienced a bereavement in his wider whanau, which he had also noted on his Facebook page. On that basis, Dr Sharma requested extra time to document his perspective on our investigation.”

“We agreed to his request on compassionate grounds and gave him an additional opportunity to present any documentation that he wished. That window closed yesterday (October 19, 2022), and we received no further documentation from Dr Sharma. The New Zealand Council met this morning and made its decisions. Dr Sharma’s expulsion is immediate.”

Dr Sharma announced his resignation yesterday (October 19, 2022) in a Social Media post, claiming to have been told by a reliable source within Labour’s New Zealand Council there was a plan to have him removed six months before next year’s general election, which would mean that there was no requirement to hold a by-election.

Ms Ardern and Ms Szabo have both rejected the claim.

 

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Hamilton.

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