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Greens 'deeply disappointed': Can Darleen Tana be kicked out of Parliament?

Thomas Coughlan,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Jul 2024, 1:01pm

Greens 'deeply disappointed': Can Darleen Tana be kicked out of Parliament?

Thomas Coughlan,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Jul 2024, 1:01pm

The Green Party has requested the resignation of Darleen Tana from Parliament following the conclusion of the independent investigation into allegations of migrant exploitation.

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick said Tana’s conduct had “fallen far short of the expectations Marama and I have of our caucus, and of the values the Green Party upholds.”

Swarbrick said Tana was not upfront with her.

“It is our very strong view that she misled myself and Marama [Davidson].”

She put the message out to Tana to “please resign”.

Tana was suspended from caucus in March after allegations she is linked to migrant exploitation at her husband Christian Hoff-Nielsen’s bicycle company Bikes and Beyond. Hoff-Nielsen denied all the exploitation allegations at the time and told the Herald: “This is not a news story, there is no news.”

Hoff-Nielsen was not at the Newmarket bike shop today and a shopworker didn’t know where he was. He was also not answering his telephone.

The Green Party Caucus reviewed and discussed the report from the independent investigation which was received on July 5.

Greens co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick, joined by colleagues Ricardo Menéndez March and Teanau Tuiono, reveals rogue MP Darleen Tana has been told to resign. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Greens co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick, joined by colleagues Ricardo Menéndez March and Teanau Tuiono, reveals rogue MP Darleen Tana has been told to resign. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The following day Tana was invited to an urgent caucus meeting to present her perspective alongside her lawyer and an additional support person, Swarbrick said.

“Following a careful reading of the report it is clear to us that Darleen’s actions are completely at odds with our party’s values, policies and kaupapa.

“Darleen spoke to the Caucus and was given the opportunity to answer questions from MPs. She then left the meeting to allow her colleagues to consider the report’s findings.”

The party said its caucus was unanimous in agreeing to request her resignation from Parliament.

“As Co-Leaders, Marama and I have clear expectations that our MPs are guided by these values and maintain a high standard of behaviour in everything they do, both inside and outside of Parliament.”

Swarbrick said the report found Tana’s behaviour fell “far short” of the co-leaders’ expectations.

Swarbrick said their preference as co-leaders had always been for full transparency and the release of the report, but they also recognised “the need to follow good practice around privacy law”.

”The Party has contacted all parties named in the Executive Summary of the report in relation to their privacy interests with the intention of releasing that as soon as practicably possible.”

Will Tana be kicked out of Parliament?

Under the waka-jumping law, a specific process has to be followed for Tana to be kicked out of Parliament.

She has to cease to be a member of the Green Party, which requires one of two actions.

The first is for Tana to write to Speaker Gerry Brownlee telling him she has resigned from the Green Party or wishes to be recognised as either an independent MP or a member of another political party.

The second is for either Swarbrick or Marama Davidson to write to Brownlee saying that Tana remaining in Parliament would distort its proportionality as determined at the election, and that they have given Tana notice of this, which would give her 21 working days to respond.

This didn’t happen when Meka Whaitiri jumped from Labour to Te Pāti Māori before the last election. Whaitiri did not write to the Speaker, nor did Labour leader Chris Hipkins, so Whaitiri stayed in Parliament as an independent MP under Standing Order 35.5, which states: “Any member who is not a member of a recognised party is treated as an Independent member for parliamentary purposes.”

Whaitiri told reporters last year that she had officially notified the Speaker she had resigned from Labour to join Te Pāti Māori, but Speaker Adrian Rurawhe said the legal requirements as set out in the law had not been fulfilled, so Whaitiri should remain as an independent MP.

There were “very specific events” that needed to happen, he said at the time, and “I can confirm to the House that those events have not happened”.

”I think it would be a dangerous situation for the Speaker of the House to start interpreting things that are clearly not being officially and submitted to me. Now, as I began my ruling, members can say whatever they like outside of this house but unless they inform me in the correct way by sending me a signed letter that is the case, I cannot act on it.”

Swarbrick has called on Tana to resign from Parliament. If that doesn’t happen, she or Davidson could consider writing a letter to Brownlee to trigger Tana being kicked out of Parliament, which would see the next candidate on the Greens’ party list - Benjamin Doyle - enter Parliament.

Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson has said previously that the party was “deeply disappointed” that Tana had not been “forthcoming about very serious breaches of Green Party kaupapa, and has not acknowledged nor taken accountability for the impact of her behaviour on others.”

”We have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the Green Party kaupapa. All our MPs agree to our collective values and standards and Darleen has clearly fallen short of them.”

The content of the report showed it was “crystal clear” Tana’s behaviour fell well short of expectations, Swarbrick said.

She said she had tried to contact Tana twice by phone this morning to advise her of today’s media stand up.

Swarbrick said whether the party would “waka-jump” Tana had not been discussed.

On a police referrals, Swarbrick said she was not in a position to speak to that.

Swarbrick said “if I knew back then what I knew right now” they would not have needed the investigation.

“I am finding it really hard to reconcile somebody I thought I knew and loved with the behaviour that is outlined in this report,” Swarbrick said.

Throughout the investigation period, Tana was suspended for 116 days on full pay - more than half of her entire Parliamentary career.

In that time, MPs were given a sizeable, backdated pay rise taking her base salary to $168,600.

This means she will have earned over $40,000 during the more than three months of her suspension.

The Greens hired barrister Rachel Burt to look into the allegations.

Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018.

- NZ Herald

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