Green Party MPs David Clendon and Kennedy Graham have withdrawn themselves from the party’s list in protest at their co-leader Metiria Turei’s benefit fraud.

However, a party official claimed the pair’s decision was motivated by their low list ranking, and said they had not been contributing to campaign work.

At the Greens’ annual conference earlier this year, Turei admitted to lying to Work and Income as a solo mother in the 1990s in order to increase the size of her benefit payments.

After a subsequent revelation that she had also provided false enrolment details at the same time to vote for a friend, Turei announced she would not seek a ministerial position in a government involving the Greens.

That does not appear to have gone far enough for Clendon and Graham, who revealed to RNZ they would withdraw from the party’s list if Turei did not resign.

“We do not believe that lying to a public agency … can ever be condoned,” RNZ reported the pair as saying.

“The timing by Metiria of her admissions, and her continuing justification of her actions, we see as incompatible with the standards of leadership of the Green Party.”

The Greens later confirmed the pair had withdrawn themselves from the list.

Green Party general manager Sarah Helm said both Clendon and Graham had been asked to consider not standing at this year’s election, and ended up with a list ranking “neither of them were particularly happy about” – Graham was eighth, and Clendon 16th.

“They’ve been a bit unhappy and I think this has kind of been a perfect excuse for them to withdraw.”

Helm said neither MP had involved themselves in the party’s campaign work this year, which she believed was as a result of dissatisfaction with their list placing.

“Dave has made one call all year, Kennedy’s put in about three to four hours of campaigning on that level, so both of them have been underperforming from a campaign perspective.”

Green candidates underneath Clendon and Graham would be moved up as a result of their withdrawal, with no new additions to the list.

In a statement, Greens co-leader James Shaw confirmed the pair had withdrawn their names from the party’s list.

“We are disappointed they’ve made this decision, though we respect their right to do so.

“The Green Party is fortunate to have high calibre and energetic candidates on the party list, who are campaigning hard for the party.”

Sam Sachdeva is Newsroom's national affairs editor, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing, and other issues of national significance.

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