David Garrett shows the way for unwanted MPs but Chris Carter seems unlikely to follow

Chris Carter has been given 500 good reasons for wanting to leave the Labour Party without being kicked out for trying to undermine leader Phil Goff.

If he were to stay with the cash-strapped party, they would tap him for $500 for a war-chest to fight the Mana by-election campaign.

Whether or not the party kicks him out, the sad bugger lacks David Garrett’s sense of what is the decent thing to do, although this might be explained by his having nothing much else to do except politics.

Garrett has resigned from Parliament.

He had already resigned from ACT after the world learned he had used the identity of a dead infant to get a fake passport.

He lost the support of his leader, Rodney Hide and has decided against hanging on as an unwanted and unloved independent MP.

“He said once he wasn’t part of the caucus his position was untenable because the people of New Zealand elected to Parliament five ACT MPs,” Mr Hide said.

A Dunedin woman, Hilary Calvert, for some extraordinary reason seems keen to take Garrett’s place in the fractious ACT caucus, a decision that raises serious questions about her judgement, although Alf can understand that wanting to get out of Dunedin is no bad idea.

Carter is a different sort of bloke.

He is reported to have spent his second day back at Parliament yesterday holed up in his new office, but issued a brief statement that left no doubt he would not quit as an MP if his party membership was revoked.

“I have returned to my duties at Parliament and in my electorate. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the Te Atatu electorate in this parliamentary term with my usual energy and enthusiasm,” he said.

You can be forgiven for having forgotten all about Chris Carter, because he is a thoroughly unforgettable sort of feller, and chances are you hit the delete button on the Chris Carter file in your memory banks several weeks ago when he slippped out of the headlines.

He was expelled from Labour’s caucus on July 29

… after a shambolic attempt to undermine Mr Goff by sending an anonymous letter to the media that claimed Mr Goff would be toppled before the 2011 election.

Labour’s ruling council issued disciplinary action against Mr Carter but the hearing was put on hold after serious concerns about his state of mind and health.

His sick leave from Parliament expired on Wednesday.

Had he not returned, Speaker Lockwood Smith would have started docking his salary $10 for every sitting day he was absent without leave.

He still regards himself as a Labour MP, however, and said he would vote with Labour in Parliament on all issues.

“My dispute is not with the Labour Party, but with the current parliamentary leadership.”

He said he would review whether he would continue pursuing the nomination to be Labour’s candidate for Te Atatu in 2011 in the next few weeks. Nominations close on October 8. Mr Carter’s name is at present the only one in the hat.

Labour president Andrew Little said Mr Carter’s return indicated he was no longer ill, and the party would now move to hear the disciplinary charges against him within the next two to three weeks.

The test of his loyalty will be his willingness to cough up the $500 the Labour Party has asked each of its MPs to stump up to pay for the forthcoming Mana by-election.

Deputy leader Annette King confirmed the 42 Labour MPs had been asked to contribute. “No MP can be compelled to part with their own money but Labour MPs contribute regularly to the Labour Party, as do members, and add to election campaigns and will be doing so in Mana.”

It is not the first time Labour MPs have had to dig deep. Some had to pay thousands of dollars after the party was found to have illegally spent $800,000 of taxpayers’ cash in the 2005 election.

Labour’s candidate, a bloke with a name that Alf can’t remember, let alone spell, said he is grateful for the contributions.

This makes him a very promising politician, and especially a Labour politician – he has his snout in a trough before he has been elected.

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