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Labour MP concerned about new candidate

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/02/2017 Karen Sweeney

Just hours after being confirmed as a Labour candidate in this year's election, Willie Jackson has faced criticism from within his own party.

Poto Williams says she's concerned the former MP and broadcaster has been selected to have a prominent ranking on the party's list given comments he made on RadioLive in 2013 during the Roast Busters scandal.

Mr Jackson was accused of victim blaming and supporting rape culture when he described the actions of a group of Auckland men bragging online about sexual encounters with drunk underage girls as "mischief".

"I was a vocal opponent of Mr Jackson's comments during the Roast Busters incident and I do not believe that his attitude towards victims of sexual abuse match what I expect of a member of the Labour Party," Ms Williams, who is the party's family and sexual violence spokeswoman, said in a post on Facebook.

She said she appreciated he might regret his comments but was yet to hear that he understood his views were highly offensive to many New Zealanders.

Mr Jackson moved quickly to address his new party colleague's concern saying he was working hard with Maori on the issue of sexual violence.

He said he had repeatedly apologised for the comments but said the role of talkback radio was to present a different point of view.

"Nobody wants to put any hurt out there ... we're in the role of talkback hosts and sometimes as talkback hosts your job is to put both sides and things get taken out of context and at the time I think the country was raging in terms of the whole Roast Busters area," he said.

"My mistake was we did an interview too casually and it went wrong."

Labour leader Andrew Little defended both Ms Williams for expressing her "legitimate and valid views" and Mr Jackson as a candidate while describing his party's position on sexual violence as second to none.

Mr Little only announced Mr Jackson's candidacy on Sunday morning, revealing he would back the broadcaster for a "winnable position on Labour's list".

"We want to continue to deepen and strengthen our representation of Maori," he said.

"Right now there is a voice that is not well heard and that is the voice of urban Maori and I think Willie brings very strong credentials in that regard."

Mr Jackson has previously been in parliament as an Alliance MP from 1999 to 2002, and led the Mana Motuhake Party between 2001 and 2004.

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