Gaurav Sharma defends lumping cost on taxpayers after resigning, forcing by-election

Gaurav Sharma has defended his decision to resign and force a by-election, saying the Labour Party was trying to "silence" him. 

The independent Hamilton West MP, who was booted from the Labour Caucus in August, believed his former party was going to use the "waka-jumping" legislation to kick him out of his seat within six months of election 2023.  

In an interview with AM on Wednesday, Dr Sharma claimed two members of Labour's New Zealand Council approached him and told him of an alleged plan to enact the waka-jumping legislation. 

He said this was being done in a bid to silence him, while Labour continued to deny all of his allegations. 

Dr Sharma said his concern was for the people of Hamilton West, who he hoped to represent again after the by-election, which would cost the taxpayer about $1 million.

"It's either [a by-election] or I'll be removed… six months before the election and then we get into this stance where Hamilton West has absolutely no Member of Parliament - no voice in Parliament - at all," Dr Sharma told AM host Ryan Bridge.

He said his resignation was final.

"My resignation was from midnight yesterday, so that's already happened… What I was told was, 'After it's done you can't take it back.'"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, however, said on Tuesday Labour's position on Dr Sharma and the waka-jumping legislation hadn't changed.

"We have not, and are not, considering invoking the waka-jumping provisions, nor do I know the basis of Gaurav Sharma's speculation," she said in a statement.

"Gaurav may wish to reconsider his decision given he is unnecessarily costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars to trigger a byelection he then intends to stand in. We consider it unnecessary and wasteful given the general election is scheduled for 2023."

But Dr Sharma hit back at this, saying Labour "had Paul Eagle, as a sitting Member of Parliament, running for Mayoralty in Wellington, and the Prime Minister was going around endorsing" him. If Rongotai MP Eagle had won the Mayoralty race, which he ended up finishing third in behind Tory Whanau and Andy Foster, that too would've triggered a by-election. 

Senior Labour MP Chris Hipkins, meanwhile, echoed Ardern's comments on Wednesday: "I don't think any of us really feel that a by-election, at this point, is justified," he told AM, adding he "absolutely" hadn't heard any talk of enacting the waka jumping legislation.

"Generally speaking, we try and avoid by-elections as much as we can," Hipkins added.

Dr Sharma has said he would stand in the Hamilton West by-election under a new "centrist" party.