Darleen Tana’s Potential Battle to Retain MP Status Despite Green Party Expulsion

Darleen Tana, despite being expelled from the Green Party and absent from Parliament for over 115 days, is steadfastly refusing to resign as an MP.

Tana’s political limbo began in March when allegations linking her to migrant worker exploitation surfaced, prompting the Green Party to suspend her with full pay pending an investigation by lawyer Rachel Burt. The investigation concluded recently, leading to the Green Party caucus voting to expel Tana, who subsequently resigned from the party but not from her parliamentary seat.

While details of the investigation remain undisclosed, Green co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick asserted that the findings implicated Tana, accusing her of betraying the party. In response, Tana denied any wrongdoing, alleging a biased agenda against her before the expulsion decision.

Despite persistent queries from media outlets, including visits to her residence, Tana has not clarified whether she intends to resign or pursue remaining in Parliament as an independent MP. The situation echoes a previous instance involving the Greens, where MP Elizabeth Kerekere left amid internal conflicts but retained her seat as an independent after the party opted not to invoke legislative measures to remove her.

Swarbrick indicated that the Green Party has notified the Speaker that Tana is no longer a member of their caucus but stopped short of confirming if they would invoke parliamentary rules to expel her. Instead, Swarbrick appealed directly to Tana to resign voluntarily to mitigate broader repercussions.

Looking forward, if Tana chooses to stay in Parliament as an independent, Swarbrick emphasized that the party would convene to decide on potential actions, possibly including the use of legislative provisions against party defection, which the Greens have historically opposed.

Meanwhile, Tana has adjusted her public affiliation from the Green Party to imagery associated with Te Pāti Māori on social media, though a party spokesperson clarified that no formal discussions with Tana had occurred regarding membership.

Addressing questions about Tana’s involvement in her husband’s business, Swarbrick underscored the need for transparency, suggesting that Tana could authorize the release of the investigation report to clarify her position.

The evolving situation underscores challenges for the Green Party, raising questions about their vetting processes and standards for candidate conduct, particularly concerning disclosures that may impact the party’s integrity.

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