Election 2023: Labour MPs at risk of losing seats confident they will stay in Parliament despite sliding support

Labour MPs have returned to Parliament after the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll results revealed support for the party continues to slide.

After receiving a historic majority at the 2020 election, Labour was entitled to 65 seats. But if the poll results were borne out on October 14, the party would have just 42 positions in Parliament. That means a number of current MPs will be losing their jobs.  

It comes after a difficult week for Labour that included the arrest of then-Justice Minister Kiri Allan and accusations that the party is divided over tax.

Newshub has analysed the latest data and Labour's list rankings to predict the MPs that could be at risk. As it's influenced by who wins certain marginal electorates, a number of educated assumptions have had to be made.

One of those at risk of losing their seat is Sarah Pallett, whose upset victory over National's Gerry Brownlee in the Ilam electorate in 2020 let her into Parliament. She's ranked 51 on the list, meaning she would likely need to win her seat again to remain an MP.

But she told Newshub on Thursday she wasn't worried about losing it. 

"Back in 2020 I didn't take a single vote for granted and I still don't," she said. "I have been working as hard as I can to show the people of Ilam I am there to deliver for them."

Pallett said she'd be trying her hardest to replicate the 2020 result. 

"I can only stand on my record of being a really hard-working local MP. I have done that for three years and I really hope people give me the opportunity to do that again." 

Asked if she had accepted that her list ranking would not be good enough to help her return to Parliament if she loses Ilam, Pallett said: "Politics is a funny beast, isn't it? We never know. I definitely think it is marginal. We are just looking to show the people of Ilam I have worked hard for them for three years."

Despite the party's sliding support over the course of the year so far, Pallett said she was happy with leader Chris Hipkins' leadership and the direction of Labour. 

Another MP who could be on the precipice of leaving Parliament if he doesn't win his seat is Northcote's Shanan Halbert. At 28, he has a better list ranking than Pallett, meaning it could be a close call.

He's not worried though. 

"I have worked hard over the last three years. I have many, many outcomes in the Northcote electorate," he said. 

"We have delivered on houses, we have delivered on investment in schools, we have delivered on transport. I have a long list compared to my opponent and I am confident that people will support me in that."

He believed he had placed "really well" on the list and was happy with his position.

"But I want to be the MP for Northcote."

Nelson MP Rachel Boyack won her seat from National at the 2020 election.

Asked if she was worried about losing her job, she said: "My focus is getting out every day and working hard for the people in Nelson."

She acknowledged the historic 2020 result, but was confident a lot of her colleagues would be back after the election. 

"My focus right now is getting out and delivering for my communities, every poll comes along and most people don’t pay much attention to them, no offence," she said. 

"What's really important is getting out on the ground and making sure people are having their concerns heard and we are delivering for them."

Rachel Brooking, who entered Parliament in 2020 but has been quickly elevated into a ministerial position, has been given the ranking of 23. She is also Labour's Dunedin candidate and that's a safe seat for Labour. 

She said she was proud of what's been achieved over the past three years. 

"I am very privileged to be here at the moment. I am very much enjoying my job and focused on doing my work"

She acknowledged that Labour had a "bad week last week" and believes the party can grow its vote. 

Brooking also believed Labour had been focused on the issues that matter. 

"Yes, I think so. I think New Zealanders really care about teachers and nurses and we have had those pay negotiations recently. We are still doing governing at the moment, and as you hear the Prime Minister say, we are focused on those bread and butter issues."

Dr Neru Leavasa holds Takanini for Labour and is likely to return.

He said Labour can move on from its internal issues. 

"The things that have happened in the last few weeks, we are focused on moving forward. People are going to be excited for what we are going to come out with with our manifesto policies"

Ingrid Leary is the MP for Taieri, another seat that is safe for Labour. 

She said the only poll that matters is the one on October 14.

"We’ve got a PM that people can trust, Kiwis want a Prime Minister that people can trust, the other side don't have that. If we keep working hard, we can win this."

She said it's been a turbulent time for the party lately. 

"People will admit that we’ve pulled together, those have been isolated incidents and they’ve been unfortunate and reflected in the polling,  but we’re actually a really tight and focussed team and we’re going to win this."

While the results weren't good for Labour, National only went up 1.3 points to 36.6 percent. Its leader, Christopher Luxon, has also seen his preferred Prime Minister score fall and nearly half of New Zealanders don't trust him.

Asked why National wasn't polling higher, National MP and former leader Judith Collins said the party was doing "very well" and Kiwis could trust Luxon. 

"He is the person who is going to bring the economy back into order. He is the person who is going to save people their homes, their jobs and the future of their kids. He is somebody they need to trust because he is a great guy."

National MP Louise Upston said the mood on the ground "is very positive" and she believes New Zealanders can trust Luxon. 

"Some are just still getting to know him."