Metiria Turei took a gamble sharing her personal story, but it backfired, her Green Party co-leader James Shaw admits.
Ms Turei last month admitted committing benefit fraud in the 1990s, hoping her story would shine a spotlight on poverty in New Zealand.
Instead, the scandal has cost her political career as she announced she was resigning last evening, saying the strife and scrutiny over her confession had become too much to bear.
“We knew (the confession) was a risk, we felt at the time it was a risk worth taking,” Mr Shaw told TV3’s The AM Show today.
“But I think it went further than either of us anticipated, particularly when it started getting into the personal lives of her daughter, her mother and her partners.”
Mr Shaw has now been left in charge of party in crisis.
On Tuesday, the Greens’ 14-member caucus lost two of its most senior MPs when Kennedy Graham and David Clendon quit because Ms Turei had refused to step aside over her admissions.
A new female co-leader will be chosen after the September 23 election, probably not until early next year.
The Greens also suffered in last night’s Newshub poll, taken before this week’s carnage, down 4.7 points to 8.3% support.
Mr Shaw said this morning, he thought Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s rise in popularity and the scandal involving Ms Turei had played equal parts in the Greens’ drop in the polls.
However, he expected his party to recover ground before the votes are cast in September.
“Our natural level of support is around 10 or 11%, we anticipate we’ll bounce back to at least that over the course of the coming weeks,” he said.
“As we’ve discovered last week, a week is a long time in politics and so six weeks is a very long time.” NZN