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Labour Party announces Habitat for Humanity NZ CEO as new President

Habitat for Humanity NZ CEO Claire Szabó has been announced as the Labour Party’s new President.

Claire Szabó Source: 1 NEWS

She ran unsuccessfully in the 2014 election for Labour against North Shore's Maggie Barry, also missing out with a placing of 38 on the party list. 

She was up against Tane Phillips, the party's Māori Senior Vice President, who promised to have the party "fighting fit for the 2020 election... And that including financially fit". 

Lorna Crane, leader of Labour's Westport branch, also threw her hat in the ring. 

Ms Szabó’s appointment comes after former president Nigel Haworth’s resignation in September over the handling of a sexual assault allegation levelled at a party staffer.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accepted his resignation after being provided correspondence from complainants written to the party.

"It confirms that the allegations made were extremely serious, that the process caused complainants additional distress, and that ultimately, in my view, the party was never equipped to appropriately deal with the issue," she said at the time.

Mr Haworth released a statement saying the resignation was effective immediately.

"I've come to the conclusion that regardless of the outcome of the appeal process into complaints about a Party member, fresh leadership will be required to take forward any recommendations from that process."

Inquiries still on going into party's handling of sexual assault allegations

The inquiries into the party's handling of the sexual assault allegation are to be completed in December.

Earlier this year, Labour began investigating after complaints were made against a staffer. An investigation panel was set up by Labour's highest governing body, the NZ Council. Three months later, the staffer was cleared.

A Queen's Counsel (QC) is now completing a report on the matter. In September, a woman claimed she raised a sexual assault allegation with the investigation. The staffer said in a statement that they "adamantly refute the serious allegations made against me".

Who is Claire Szabó

Ms Szabó has degrees in music, education, commerce and administration and lives in Maungakiekie with her husband and two children. 

Coming into the presidency while an inquiry is ongoing into the party’s handling of sexual assault allegations, Ms Szabó says she will deal "capably with the upcoming investigation reports".

She also promised to "ensure organisational performance with adequate finances, focused teams, a clear plan and accountability".

Her promise to deal with the upcoming investigation seems to have stood her in good light with her appointment today which put her ahead of other candidates such as Lorna Crane, leader of Labour's Westport branch.

Ms Szabó will take over the position from acting President Tracey McLellan, who was selected as Labour’s candidate for Port Hills.