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Laila Harre in 2006
|1st Internet Party Leader|
29 May 2014 – December 2014
|Preceded by||Position created|
|Succeeded by||Suzie Dawson|
|3rd Leader of the Alliance|
|Preceded by||Jim Anderton|
|Succeeded by||Matt McCarten|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Alliance list
1996 – 2002
|Born||8 January 1966|
|Political party||Labour (1982-89) (2016-)|
|Independent (2003-2012), (2014-2016)
NewLabour Party (1989-91)
Green Party (2012-2014)
Internet Party (2014)
|Alma mater||University of Auckland|
Laila Jane Harré (born 8 January 1966) is a New Zealand politician and trade unionist. She was the first leader of the Internet Party, and stood for Parliament in the 2014 general election through the Helensville electorate. From 1996 to 2002 she was a Member of Parliament for the Alliance party, briefly leading that party after the group experienced a schism in 2002.
Harré's father was a social anthropologist, and the family spent a part of her childhood (including some years of primary school) living in Fiji while he studied urbanisation there. Her mother was an actress. After returning to New Zealand, she attended secondary school in Auckland at Auckland Girls' Grammar before gaining Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees at the University of Auckland.
1982–1996 – Labour, NewLabour, and the Alliance
Harré joined the Labour Party in 1982, representing the youth wing on the party's New Zealand Council. Throughout her seven-year membership of the party she was a critic of the policies advanced by Roger Douglas, who became Minister of Finance when Labour won the 1984 election. Douglas, an advocate of free-market economics, introduced a programme of radical reforms (Rogernomics) which alienated many of Labour's traditional supporters, including Harré.
In 1989, Harré resigned from the Labour Party. She became a founding member of the NewLabour Party, an organisation started by dissident Labour MP Jim Anderton. NewLabour later joined with several other parties to form the Alliance. Harré stood as the Alliance candidate for the Te Atatu electorate in the 1993 elections, but was unsuccessful, coming runner-up to Labour's Chris Carter.
1996–2002 – Member of Parliament
|New Zealand Parliament|
In the 1996 elections, which took place under the new MMP electoral system, the Alliance ranked Harré in eighth place on its party list. The Alliance gained a sufficient number of votes for Harré to enter parliament.
After the 1999 elections, the Alliance formed a coalition government with Labour (which had by then backed away from many of the policies introduced by Douglas). Harré became Minister of Women's Affairs and Minister of Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Labour and Commerce. She later gained additional responsibilities as Minister of Statistics.
She led the parliamentary campaign for the introduction of paid parental leave from Opposition and as a Minister sponsored the legislation to introduce 12 weeks paid parental leave in 2002. Other causes championed by Harré included legislation protecting the interests of building industry sub-contractors, significant minimum-wage increases and the removal of age discrimination in the minimum wage. She re-launched the pay-equity debate as Minister of Women's Affairs, and a campaign to increase annual leave from three weeks to four weeks.
In late 2001, however, the Alliance began to show signs of internal strain. In particular, some members of the party felt that it was losing its independent political identity and failing to differentiate itself from the Labour Party on issues such as free trade, tertiary-education funding and other core areas. The decision of Jim Anderton and a majority of Alliance MPs to back New Zealand's involvement in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan brought these tensions to a head, dividing the caucus and separating the parliamentary leadership from the majority in the non-parliamentary party organisation (led by Matt McCarten). Harré, however, aligned herself with the grass-roots party view, and became its de facto leader in parliament.
The collapse of the Alliance soon became inevitable, with Anderton and his supporters deciding to contest the 2002 election as a new party (the Progressives). Harré, considered to be the foremost of the MPs who remained behind, was chosen to lead what remained of the Alliance into its election campaign, aiming to at least retain a presence in parliament. Harré herself was seen as the party's best chance of keeping a parliamentary seat, having a relatively strong chance of winning the seat of Waitakere. In the election itself, however, Harré placed second, being defeated by Labour's Lynne Pillay.
The following year, Harré stepped down as leader of the Alliance, being replaced by Matt McCarten. She was not aligned to any other political party from 2002–2011 but in 2012 accepted a role as issues director of the Green Party.
2002–2014 – Intermission from parliamentary politics
From 2002 to 2005 Harré led the industrial work of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, including its successful pay-equity campaign for public-sector nurses. She served as General Secretary of the National Distribution Union from 2005 to 2009, after which she joined the Auckland Transition Agency.
Between 2010 and 2012 Harré worked for the International Labour Organisation in Fiji. Subsequently, in 2012 she started work as the inaugural issues director of the Green Party, a position she resigned from in 2013. Harré quit the Green Party in protest to the way that the Greens had handled a rebuffed proposition by the Labour Party for conducting a joint electoral campaign.
2014 – Return to parliamentary politics
On 29 May 2014, Harré was named as the first leader of New Zealand's Internet Party. The party allied with the Mana Party to contest the 2014 election as the Internet MANA Party. Harré had second place on the combined party's list. Vikram Kumar (secretary of the Internet Party) initially approached her about becoming a candidate; she declined, but later reconsidered after a meeting with Kim Dotcom. She stated at the time she got involved again in politics because she wanted to encourage young people to vote, and to reconnect disenfranchised people with the political system.
Following the failure of Internet MANA to enter Parliament, Harré stood back from media view for several weeks before formally announcing she was stepping down as leader of the Internet Party, effective December 2014.
Since the election Harré has been occasionally writing on New Zealand left-wing blog site The Daily Blog, and undertook a 'pilgrimage' across New Zealand called Rethinking the System. In December 2016, Harré announced she had rejoined the Labour Party 27 years after she left to join NewLabour.
Harré lives in Te Atatu, after five years of living in Mount Eden, and is married to Barry Gribben. They met through the Labour Party and share an interest in an organic vineyard, a restaurant, and several properties. She also has two children.
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