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Shape of new government emerges with Labour reshuffle

Even the prime minister has conceded the next election will go to the wire. 

Speaking on RadioLIVE this morning, John Key said he expected National and Labour/Green to win roughly the same share of the vote at the next election, which would be “a very, very tight race”.

Mr Key may be overstating his chances. He won in 2011 by fewer than 10,000 votes and a single seat and the odds of him holding on to all of his vote in 2014 are surely low. 

That makes today’s announcement by David Shearer of Labour’s so-called shadow cabinet particularly significant.

Bold aspects
Resembling Mr Key’s cabinet reshuffle, Mr Shearer’s effort has its bold aspects.

Like Charles Chauvel before them, Trevor Mallard, Lianne Dalziel, Ruth Dyson and David Cunliffe have effectively all been told by Mr Shearer that there is no place for them in a cabinet he leads. 

The call seems somewhat unfair on Ms Dalziel, who has done a good job putting pressure on Gerry Brownlee in Christchurch, but the divisive Mr Mallard’s head had to be put on a pike to balance the inevitable decision that Mr Cunliffe could not be trusted to be returned to a genuinely senior role. 

Ms Dyson is a has-been, having been president of the Labour Party as far back as 1988 and amounting to little ever since.

Parekura Horomia and Ross Robertson have again been delivered pink slips but will probably again refuse to read them.

Winners include Annette King, who returns to the front bench and the health portfolio she held as minister from 1999-2005. Her experience as employment minister in the 1980s will also be useful as Labour continues to make jobs a major issue. 

Chris Hipkins, at just 34, is being given a big but deserved break in taking on the education portfolio against the struggling Hekia Parata.

The biggest winner, though, is the Rev Dr David Clark. The Dunedin North MP, and leading world authority on Christian existentialism, is now the party’s economic development guru, up against Steven Joyce. 

If Shane Jones survives the forthcoming auditor-general’s report into the Bill Liu affair, he will take on regional development.

Cannon fodder

A critic could point out that Mr Shearer’s shadow cabinet continues to carry under-performers. Failed health spokeswoman Maryan Street and failed education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta remain in the Top 20, albeit with diminished roles. 

It is difficult to know quite what Sue Moroney, Su’a William Sio and Megan Woods offer.

The answer is that Mr Shearer’s Top 20 needs to include some cannon fodder to make space for the Greens.

It is difficult to imagine the Greens getting less than a third of Labour’s vote and the far-left party has no intention of being taken for granted. It will demand – and would have a right to expect – five of the 20 seats in cabinet. 

Of those making the Top 20 in today’s announcement, Ms Street, Ms Mahuta, Ms Moroney, Mr Sio and Ms Woods would be most likely to miss out.

For the Greens, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei and the highly regarded Kevin Hague would be dead-certs. 

At just 31, Gareth Hughes has also earned a place in the Greens top five and would make a far more credible youth affairs minister than Labour’s Ms Mahuta, who will be 43 by the time of the next election. 

Party activists are likely to want to see Mojo Mathers become New Zealand’s first deaf cabinet minister, to take a lead role on disability issues.

The shape of a Labour/Green cabinet is therefore becoming clearer. My best estimate, as of today, is as follows:

1.   David Shearer: Prime Minister, SIS, Science
2.   Russel Norman (Green): Deputy Prime Minister, Economic Development, Environment
3.   Grant Robertson: Tertiary Education, Employment, Arts, Leader of the House
4.   David Parker: Finance, Attorney-General, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
5.   Jacinda Ardern: Social Development, Children, Early Childhood Education
6.   Metiria Turei (Green): Maori Development, Women’s Affairs, Conservation
7.   Clayton Cosgrove: Canterbury Earthquake Authority, Police, Corrections
8.   Annette King: Health
9.   Shane Jones: Regional Development, Local Government, Forestry, Fisheries, Racing
10. Phil Twyford: Housing, Transport, Auckland Issues
11. Kevin Hague (Green): ACC
12. Chris Hipkins: Education
13. David Clark: SOEs, Commerce, Revenue, Small Business, Inter-Faith Dialogue
14. Phil Goff: Foreign Affairs, Defence, State Services, Pacific Island Affairs
15. Darien Fenton: Labour, Immigration, Internal Affairs
16. Gareth Hughes (Green): Climate Change, Youth Affairs, Sport, Civil Defence
17. Damien O’Connor: Primary Industries, Energy & Resources
18. Clare Curran: Communications, Broadcasting
19. Andrew Little: Justice, Tourism, Building & Construction
20. Mojo Mathers (Green): Disability Issues, Disarmament, Food Safety, Customs

There are plenty of new people here that the business community will need to know.


More by Matthew Hooton

Comments and questions

Well done, Matthew, your article is the best advert to vote for National in 2014. With that line up, NZ will surely just increase borrowing and govt spending like there is no tomorrow. Heaven help us all ... if we choose to stay.

National is already borrowing hugely and spending up large on bailouts. See you later.

This line-up is not electorally palatable to voters looking for a credible alternative government. A shame, since the current incumbents have only achieved a C grade overall. (D for education)

E for Education, surely?

It's an OK start at getting rid of the useless hangers on ... Klingons or dags is just too polite a word for the stale has-beens. But like the adage goes, he might be able to move around the deck chairs of the floundering SS Labour Party. But sure as eggs are eggs, you still can't polish a t*rd.

"Shape of new government emerges" - well, let's all vote and show yet again that counting one's chickens while the eggs are in the nest is a fool's folly.

Matthew, is it your hope that putting forward such headlines is a call to arms for THINKING Kiwis?

It is indeed a call to arms and the thinking voters will all be voting Labour Green.

Mr Hooton, I think you meant Russel Norman will be Minister for Economic Degradation, not Economic Development. Then it will be consistent with his role as Minister of the Snails - sorry I meant Environment

Where do the Greens and Hone fit into the Cabinet?

Hone on treaty negotiations as a cherry on top.

Hone should get housing. Increased State housing is one way of getting people out of poverty. Annette could do Treaty negotiations.

The assortment of experienced numpties (Mccully, Brownlee, Williamson) and inexperienced incompetents (Parata, Bennett, Adams, Wilkinson) that the National government has brought to the table is a real worry. (Bill English and Chris Finlayson notable exceptions)

Could National not have grown some competent people after nine years in opposition?

Apart from Cosgrove and Hipkins, the fictional line-up above at least has the appeal of competence. None of these people will be sent overseas on long training courses (a la Bennett) while Ministers.

The more important part of the equation remains to be seen... the policies.

One thing this reshufled lineup isn't is a 'competent alternative government in waiting' !
There is not one individual there, who has demonstrated during the past four years that he/she has ever had an original thought.

By way of comparison with the unintelligent dullards and economically orthodox drones in National, this alternative government is fresh and offers hope again.

LieBore and Watermelon cretins all.

And what about Labour needing Winston and his ego to be placated? and John Hatfield?

And then the fun begins. I should buy shares in a popcorn factory.

You are lucky to have some money to invest with. Popcorn would be a better bet than coal.

You missed Winston - Russel the Commie will have a fight on his hands to have the treasury chair if Winston holds the balance of power.

He's not a commie any more than John Key is illuminati

So are you saying that he is a 'former' commie then, because he WAS a commie in Australia.

Russel Norman Economic Development? Shouldn't that read Uneconomic Underdevelopment?? Agree with John.Doe. Best thing Shearer could have done and a leg-up for John Key. Scary to say the least with a Back-to-the-Future line up. Next thing we'll see Mr Shearer out of his MGB into a De Lorean!

The "problem" with Ross Robertson is that he is loved in his electorate. Even as a National supporter I vote for him personally and National on the list.
Look at the last election, Robertson got 19,399 votes, Labour 17,977. Almost the difference between National candidate 3561 and National List 5287. If Labour force him out, who knows what will happen to Labour?

Interesting watching you wipe all dislikes when it dosent suit your idealology !!

"Even the prime minister has conceded the next election will go to the wire."

Then he and English had better get off their a*ses and start fighting for it or it will be lost. As I have said before, the battle for the 2014 election doesn't start in 2014, it started already, in about June of last year. And on current form, National has already lost it.

Key needs to come out swinging. And if he doesn't have the back-street mongrel in him then he should let somebody who has it do it.

There are things National could do to increase popularity, but at the expense of the country's long-term benefit. NZ will ride the global situation out well as long as politicians don't try to 'fix' things.

He's not a back street mongrels a hole. He is gonna get a wuppin.

Manukau East Nat supporter, you need to put a lot more thought into your selection at the next election. It is competence and Policy, not popularity, that leads to an effective government for the future of NZ

Election will go down to the wire.
National's real problem is it's lack of coalition partners. The obvious solution is the Conservatives who are polling higher than Act,United and the Maori party.
The Conservative party also has the potential to tack votes of Labour and NZ First.

National's real problem is a substandard couple of terms - not a lack of partners. Do a real job and earn the vote.

How stupid David Shearer is.

Natonal won the last election by wooing post-earthquake Christchurch. Until today's announcement by Labour, National was on track to lose Christchurch due to rebuild and education issues.

Now dopey Shearer has got rid of Liane Dalziel, who is very popular in East Christchurch, and Ruth Dyson aound the Sydenham through to Lytelton areas.

National will be very happy about these serious errors of judgement - along with David Cunliffe and Trevor Mallard out of the way.

Shearer is an idiot.

Ain't gonna happen.

There won't be a swing to the left in these economic times. And with such a boring bunch in the opposition who just bleat and come up with zip they may think they can cruise in to leadership but they won't and they can then plain for the following election and keep bleating away.

The electorate at large will stick with National.

Irony is both are bereft of anything particularly insightful. Just little steps either way but nothing that makes one sit back and think 'Jeepers these guys are deep thinkers - tweaks of diddly squat'.

And sweet fa charisma or passion, really - just generally overweight middle-aged Kiwis sounding off just like Shakespeare says: signifying nought.

However, the future will be fun when a younger generation wakes up from being diluted and dummies down and pulls its finger out of its collective jacksies and bangs on about inter-generational theft and brings death duty back in and so on.

Ritchie McCaw would be a leader we would all gravitate towards - cutting insight, a great Kiwi attitude, mental toughness ,the ability to get the very best out of all stakeholders and bucket loads of humility - dreams are free!

Yep - Ritchie, Sir Bob Jones and Mark Ellis on team National....

Job done...

It's a strong finance team behind Parker. Cunliffe, Cosgrave and Shane Jones. Kiwi hetros. Harvard boys but not Chicago School fanactics. Stephen Franks always said he was bored senseless by the the difference between Chicago School and Harvard School. The economy is being wrecked by the fanatical Gibbs, English, Smith belief in comparative advantage. We needed balanced dev of dairy, lamb, venison, crops and real tourist growth - Club Med and clubs and bars at dev and Pt Chev beach. Cheers Maggie.

Matthew, bad call on transport going to Phil Twyford. It looks to me like Labour have shifted him off Transport and into Housing so that the former portfolio is free for Julie-Anne Genter from the Greens. Julie's been tearing the past and present Ministers of Transport new potholes about their mismanagement of the transport portfolio in general.

Julie's quite rightly pointed out, for example, how the recent fuel tax hikes, need for expensive PPPs, and cuts to construction/maintenance of local roads are all a consequence of National's crazy addiction to uneconomic "think big" highway projects.

Base on her performance so far Julie seems destined to get Transport.

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