Election 2023: MP Ibrahim Omer defeats former Labour president Claire Szabo in race to replace Grant Robertson as Wellington Central candidate

  • 19/03/2023

Labour MP Ibrahim Omer has defeated his party's former president Claire Szabo to be selected as Labour's Wellington Central candidate in the upcoming election.

In January Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who's held the seat since 2008, announced he will not be running in the electorate in the 2023 election, and instead will campaign as a list-only candidate.

The battle for the upcoming vacancy saw first-term list MP Omer take victory over rival nominees Gail Duncan, James Little and Szabo, who was president of the New Zealand Labour Party from 2019 to 2022.

Omer arrived in New Zealand as a refugee and worked as a cleaner while studying at Victoria University. In a statement he said he was "honoured" to have been chosen as Labour's candidate.

"I love Wellington and I'll be a strong advocate for this city and its people," he said.

"This is a city that has given me so many opportunities and I will be a champion for all the different communities that make Wellington what it is. 

"As someone who has worked long hours for low pay, I want to ensure that everyone who works hard in our communities can get ahead and improve their lives. Throughout my life I have seen the power of communities coming together to make change. That is the approach I will bring to advocating for Wellington Central."

While Robertson didn't endorse a candidate, Omer paid tribute to his "friend and mentor", saying Robertson has been a "tireless advocate for the people of his electorate".

"I want to follow in his example by promoting our city, celebrating everything that makes us wonderful and unique, and working hard to make the improvements we need," Omer said.

"I will be proud to represent Wellington Central in Government and be a strong voice for local people."

Before he became an MP, Omer chaired the board of the Change Makers Resettlement Forum, was involved in governance for the Living Wage Movement, and worked as a union organiser representing low-wage workers.