New Zealand’s former first deputy Tracey Martin has revealed her relief that the party was unable to return to parliament in 2020 as it saved her from resigning.
In an exclusive Q+A interview with Jack Tame, Martin said the party she joined in 2008 moved away from what she was comfortable being connected to.
“The political places that came out of caucus — and those were majority caucus decisions, so you support them — but they no longer represented or made me feel comfortable,” Martin said.
“In a way, I was lucky that NZ First didn’t come back, because I was in a very difficult situation. If we had come back to Parliament, I’m not sure the management they made with decisions that I could have maintained.
Martin was one of the architects of NZ First’s return to parliament in 2011, and the party spent two terms in opposition before joining a Green-backed coalition with Labor in 2017.
She argued that NZ First had made the right decision to go with Labor rather than the National, but acknowledged that she was politically much closer to Labor than many of her caucus colleagues.
Martin said “if I didn’t feel like I could change the conversations in caucus” she would have quit, rather than cross the floor and join Labour.
“Nobody elected me there – they elected NZ First there, and I happened to be on that ticket,” said Martin, who served as a list MP.
It echoed a controversial law change that NZ First had passed by the coalition – the so-called ‘waka-jumping’ bill – which meant MPs who tried to switch parties could be kicked out of Parliament by their leaders party.
On the future of NZ First, Martin resigned his party membership and felt the party leadership was out of step with the leadership of the country.
She also bet on their future electoral prospects with former colleague Ron Mark, who believed the party would return to Parliament in 2023.
Martin is currently a board member of Waka Kotahi, Chairman of NZQA and led the Public Media Task Force. In her spare time, she writes a romance novel.