Labour Party refuses to answer questions on Ayesha Verrall’s future

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The Labour Party has unveiled its full list of candidates for the election and it includes one of the key voices advising the government during the Covid-19 crisis.

Ayesha Verrall  (at podium)

Dr Ayesha Verrall. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Infectious diseases specialist Dr Ayesha Verrall is ranked 18th – well above many of the party’s sitting MPs – meaning she is almost certain to make into Parliament after September’s election.

Verrall was vocal in her criticism of the government’s contact tracing programme before being brought in by the Ministry of Health to review its work. Later, she said the contact tracing system had improved.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no conflict of interest.

Labour Party president Claire Szabo told Morning Report all the work Verrall had done independently of the government was “neutral” and that her candidate application was put in after that.

“We looked at 103 nominations for the Labour Party over the weekend including one from Dr Ayesha Verrall. We were very pleased to have a nomination from somebody who is a very highly acclaimed infectious diseases specialist when we’re going into a period in our government where we need to deeply understand that and have that expertise.”

She said she was confident the prime minister would put together a Cabinet “using people that she has and their expertise and the new people that come into Parliament, and it will be a great line-up”.

As for the top 20 – including six women and four Māori – she said: “Parliament should look like New Zealand”.

Health Minister David Clark

Health Minister David Clark. Photo: RNZ/Dom Thomas

Verrall was ranked just one spot below the Health Minister David Clark – who went from ninth to 17th and narrowly escaped being sacked for breaking lockdown rules under alert level 4.

Szabo said the list was about the new people who would come into Parliament but not a shuffle of Cabinet.

Neither Szabo nor Ardern would say if Verrall would become the next health minister.

“I’m determined to use my skills and experience in health to make sure New Zealanders get the best healthcare that they deserve in any capacity I can,” Verrall said yesterday.

Labour’s list for the 2020 general election:

1. Jacinda Ardern

2. Kelvin Davis

3. Grant Robertson

4. Phil Twyford

5. Megan Woods

6. Chris Hipkins

7. Andrew Little

8. Carmel Sepuloni

9. David Parker

10. Nanaia Mahuta

11. Trevor Mallard

12. Stuart Nash

13 Iain Lees-Galloway

14. Jenny Salesa

15. Damien O’Connor

16. Kris Faafoi

17. David Clark

18. Ayesha Verrall

19. Peeni Henare

20. Willie Jackson

21. Aupito William Sio

22. Poto Williams

23. Vanushi Walters

24. Michael Wood

25. Adrian Rurawhe

26. Raymond Huo

27. Kiri Allan

28. Kieran McAnulty

29. Louisa Wall

30. Meka Whaitiri

31. Rino Tirikatene

32. Camilla Belich

33. Priyanca Radhakrishnan

34. Jan Tinetti

35. Deborah Russell

36. Marja Lubeck

37. Angie Warren-Clark

38. Willow-Jean Prime

39. Tamati Coffey

40. Naisi Chen

41. Jo Luxton

42. Jamie Strange

43. Liz Craig

44. Ibrahim Omer

45. Duncan Webb

46. Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki

47. Ginny Andersen

48. Rachel Brooking

49. Paul Eagle

50. Helen White

51. Barbara Edmonds

52. Angela Roberts

53. Shanan Halbert

54. Neru Leavasa

55. Tracey McLellan

56. Lemauga Lydia Sosene

57. Steph Lewis

58. Dan Rosewarne

59. Rachel Boyack

60. Arena Williams

61. Ingrid Leary

62. Soraya Peke-Mason

63. Lotu Fuli

64. Sarah Pallett

65. Gaurav Sharma

66. Emily Henderson

67. Terisa Ngobi

68. Kurt Taogaga

69. Kerrin Leoni

70. Reuben Davidson

71. Zahra Hussaini

72. Janet Holborow

73. Romy Udanga

74. Ala’ Al-Bustanji

75. Glen Bennett

76. Monina Hernandez

77. Claire Mahon

78. Jon Mitchell

79. Nathaniel Blomfield

80. Nerissa Henry

81. Mathew Flight

82. Shirin Brown

83. Liam Wairepo

84. Georgie Dansey

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