Back-down on MP’s citizenship ceremony block

National MP Parmjeet Parmar (Facebook)
National MP Parmjeet Parmar (Facebook)

There's been a back-down over the "political pillow talk" saga in Mt Roskill.

Puketapapa board chair Julie Fairey will now let National list MP Parmjeet Parmar attend local citizenship ceremonies.

Ms Fairey shut Dr Parmar out of a ceremony on the grounds she's not a locally elected MP and has no mandate from the community.

In a press statement Dr Parmar said she was stopped from going because of "political pillow talk" between Ms Fairey and husband Michael Wood -- Labour's likely Mount Roskill candidate.

Mr Wood and Dr Parmar are likely to face off in a Mt Roskill by-election later this year if Phil Goff wins the Auckland mayoralty. 

Earlier today Ms Fairey said only locally elected MPs were allowed to come -- and Dr Parmar was a list MP. 

Mr Wood is allowed to go because he is also an elected member of the Puketepapa local board.

Ms Fairey's now revealed the rules don't exclude Dr Parmar.

"I went back to the council and said 'can you clarify this for me' because my understanding genuinely was they were private."

She said details of the events aren't publicly made available but if people show up, they're not turned away.

Ms Fairey says Dr Parmar has the same right to attend as anyone else and she was not deliberately preventing her attendance.

Dr Parmar said she was glad the rules had been clarified but was still suspicious of Ms Fairey's motives.

"I had expected she would be inviting me to these ceremonies; I was expecting them to get back to me on that and the reply I got was clearly she doesn't want me to be invited."

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne today said the decision on who attends citizenship ceremonies was in the local authority's control, but he thought anyone should be able to attend.

National list MP Christopher Bishop, who's based in Hutt Valley, said he thought citizenship ceremonies were about inclusivity and every elected representative who wants to attend should be able to.

"The point of the ceremony is about welcoming new citizens to New Zealand and elected representatives whether they're local board reps or MPs in the area are elected representatives of the people and they should all be invited."

Ms Fairey earlier said she believed Dr Parmar was using the blocking as electioneering.​

"I've seen Parmjeet at a number of community events over the last little while; she said nothing to me about it. The fact [is] that the first I heard about there continuing to be a problem [was] via a media outlet ringing me to say 'what do I think of these political pillow talk allegations'."

​Ms Fairey and Mr Wood were backed by Labour leader Andrew Little, who accused National of "dirty politics".​

​Mr Wood objected to Dr Parmar's claim his wife was abusing her power as chair.

"I don't mind having my views or my record attacked, but to have my family brought into it is tacky, desperate and unacceptable," he said.