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Nick Leggett an opportunist: Labour

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/12/2016 Sean Martin
Former Porirua mayor Nick Leggett © Getty Former Porirua mayor Nick Leggett

Nick Leggett is an opportunist who defected to National after it asked him to stand for parliament, Labour's deputy leader Annette King says.

The former Porirua mayor confirmed this week he had quit Labour and joined National, saying he would seek the party's Mana nomination.

Mana is a Porirua seat, and Ms King says Mr Leggett was offered the nomination by cabinet minister Hekia Parata.

"He was approached by Hekia, of course he was flattered, the National Party is asking him to stand in Mana," Ms King said on Newshub's Paul Henry Show on Friday.

"It's kind of `I don't care where as long as I'm there' - he was Labour, he was mayor of Porirua, he wanted to be mayor of Wellington, he wasn't, and he decided he would be a National Party MP."

Cabinet minister Paula Bennett, on the same show, rejected Ms King's assertions.

"He will have dug really deep to make this decision," she said.

"I think he looked at himself and what he stands for, and decided Labour moved away from him."

Mr Leggett says Labour "hasn't got a clue" about what's happening in communities like Porirua.

"Earlier this year (Labour leader) Andrew Little stunned a Porirua business person by asking what had been happening in Porirua since the closure of Mitsubishi Motors - the plant closed 18 years ago," Mr Leggett says in an article written for Fairfax.

"The activists, staffers and MPs who control today's Labour - many ex-Alliance - have become distant from much of its loyal voting base.

"They take their heartland for granted and sadly fail to understand the ambitions and challenges of working New Zealanders."

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