Labour reshuffle leaves Jones in limbo

Shane Jones stays at No 7 for now (Photo: TV3 News)
Annette King: health portfolio again and up to No 6
David Clark: rising star gets economic development
Trevor Mallard: dropped off the Top 20
Lianne Dalziel: has also lost Top 20 spot

Shane Jones' position on Labour's front bench remains in limbo.

In a caucus reshuffle, Labour leader David Shearer has kept Mr Jones at No 7 on the list and left a position open to him, depending on the outcome of the auditor-general's investigation into his actions as associate immigration minister in 2008.

At that time, Mr Jones granted citizenship to Chinese millionaire Bill Liu, despite being advised by the Internal Affairs department not to.

Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel are the two biggest losers in the reshuffle, dropping off Mr Shearer's Top 20. That means neither MP would make cabinet if Mr Shearer was to form a government tomorrow.

He says Mr Mallard and Ms Dalziel will continue to hold important roles and both have acknolwedged the need for renewal.

He would not be drawn on their reaction to the demotion. "I'm not going to talk about the conversations I had with them." 

Mr Shearer says his fresh line-up of MPs is "energised" and says they are excited about taking the fight to the government and setting out Labour's new direction for New Zealand.

"My new team is a mix of new talent and experienced hands.

"My decisions have been driven by the need for us to be firmly focused on the challenges facing New Zealand, which includes jobs, growing our economy, delivering a world class education for kids and tackling the housing affordability crisis."

"National's hands-off approach has failed."

Reflecting Mr Shearer's emphasis on creating jobs and growing the economy, he has handed the new portfolio of employment, skills and training to his right-hand man, Grant Robertson.

Despite being an "exceptionally talented MP," serial party disrupter David Cunliffe has been left lingering close to the party's cellar-dweller position.

He retains associate finance, while also picking up the portfolios of fisheries and revenue from "rising star" Dunedin MP David Clark, who has been promoted to the economic development portfolio.

"Mr Cunliffe is a talented MP and this gives him the opportunity to play a constructive role in the Labour team," Mr Shearer says. He emphasised the word "constructive".

Mr Shearer hopes, given time, Mr Cunliffe can return to a full front-bench role.

He says Mr Clark has the intellectual grunt to take on economic development minister Steven Joyce.

Mr Clark admits Mr Joyce is a tough customer and is good at communicating and "staying on message". However, he believes the minister does have his weaknesses and the public is starting to realise he has no credible plan to grow job numbers.

But when asked if he had a plan, he said it was too soon to say when there will be one from Labour.

Maryan Street has lost the health portfolio to former health minister Annette King, who edges ahead to No 6 on the party list. Ms King will be Labour's fourth health spokesperson in as many years.

"I think what we'll see with Annette King coming on board is some real firepower. Annette comes in with not only the enthusiasm and experience, but also a real taste for new ideas." Mr Shearer says.

Phil Twyford takes on Mrs King's former housing portfolio.

Ms King says Mr Mallard and Ms Dalziel will understand the need to step aside for the greater good of the party, "just as Phil Goff and I stood down at the end of 2011".

bcunningham@nbr.co.nz

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15 Comments & Questions

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David Cunliffe must be laughing and relaxed.

He can now wait until after the next election, when Labour once again gets buried, and then take over the leadership.

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Why leave Andrew Little back at #19 - is David Shearer afraid that he might show him up? Little is one of the few Labor members to have actually landed some good hits.

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Surprised to Andrew Little so far down

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Yep... Pleasantly surprised. The washed-up, has-been is well passed his use-by date, too.

Next stop for him will be the Mana Party, helping to raise the average IQ of both Labour and Mana.

See, he has done something useful - eventually...

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Yep... Plenty of retread MPs well past their use by date.

By giving Mr Little the justice portfolio that's a real travesty of justice, when his public comments about employers being 'parasites' is remembered.

Especially from such a union man. Talk about pot meet kettle, but even more so when something like 90% of NZ businesses are SMEs and Shearer wants their "justice" spokesperson to be this individual who clearly has no love for NZ, or business, or fairness... But that's a taste of what NZ Inc can expect from Labour.

...and they wonder why they can't get more than 27%?

Come next election, 27% will feel like the 'good times', especially having to accommodate the three other heads in the four-headed coalition taniwha, as they all try to outdo each other for the baubles of power.

Who will be the finance minister?

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Russel intends to be the Finance mInister in a Green/Labour coalition; that will be the non negotiable price for coalition.
Little as spokesperson for Justice is a case of 'putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop'.

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Yep... Russel wants finance all right, but kingmaker Winnie will also want it as the price for his team joining the left.

All will squabble, fight, deceive and backstab each other. Behind the scenes it will be even uglier, getting worse the closer the election comes.

All Key and National will need do is put out credible policies announced well in advance and repeated almost daily to get the message across, while acting as a statesman should. Especially at question time in Parliament ... and let the four-headed taniwha squabble their way back in to the shadows again. Brilliance by comparison and let them undo themselves for all of NZ Inc to see and watch.

Pass the popcorn...

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Good lord that is a scary thought, almost as terrifying as when Jim Anderton had his hands on the finances....

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I am not a fan but Anderton did one good thing called Kiwi Bank

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Mr Shearer clearly sees motor-mouth Mallard as a liability.

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Don't we all !

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This clearly leaves the path open for Dalziel to be the next mayor of Christchurch..No one except Bob wants him back.

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---and me!

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Shane Jones would be an obvious contender for minister of publications, with his recent hands on experience.

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Woop-woop. Who woulda thought that David could cobble together a Front Bench of both youth and experience, maturity and derring-do?
Such talent can't be bought -- oh,wait, with the exception of Shane Jones.

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