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Dr Gaurav Sharma resigns from Parliament, plans a new Party

Dr Gaurav Sharma: “I will start a new Centralist Party” (Newshub Screen Grab)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 18, 2022

Independent MP from Hamilton West Dr Gaurav Sharma has announced that he will resign from Parliament and force a by-election but Labour Party Leader Jacinda Ardern has asked him to reconsider his decision and avoid ‘thousands of dollars of expenditure.’

Dr Sharma said that his decision to resign from the Party was to pre-empt the Labour Party from invoking the ‘Waka-Jumping’ legislation.

‘Waka Jumping’ is a colloquial term in New Zealand used to prevent a Member of Parliament from moving from one political party to another, along with their parliamentary seat.

The New Zealand Parliament passed the first legislation in 2001 that required List MPs to leave Parliament if they moved from one party to another. This law expired after the general election held in 2005. A similar law was passed in 2018, requiring a defecting Member of Parliament to give up their seat at the request of their former Party Leader. List MPs are replaced by the next person on the List.

By-election forced

However, an elected Member of Parliament can contest their seat, forcing a by-election.

The Labour Party removed Dr Sharma from its caucus in August for breaching confidentiality and losing the trust of his colleagues.

In a Facebook notification, quoted by Radio New Zealand and other media, he said that he has been informed that the Labour Party has planned to use the Waka-Jumping legislation to remove him from Parliament six months before the next election.

He said that he decided to resign as an MP to ensure a by-election.

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

Ardern rejects suggestion

However, Ms Ardern said that Labour Party’s on Dr 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. He 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,” Ms Ardern said.

Newshub reported Dr Sharma as saying that he will establish a new ‘centrist party’ and wants to ‘send a message to the government that you cannot silence the voice of the common man.”

“These are not easy decisions but given the numerous areas where the government has failed us, it is important that we hold our government (of any colour) accountable. I will publish more details about the new party in due course. I expected Labour to spin my decision by talking about the cost of the by-election. Many Labour MPs have triggered a by-election in the past,” he said.

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