30 Nov 2015

Little reshuffles shadow cabinet

5:42 pm on 30 November 2015

The two MPs demoted in the Labour Party reshuffle say they are still committed to working to ensure a victory for their party at the next election.


Andrew Little, middle top, has changed the roles of, clockwise from top right, Phil Twyford, Megan Woods, David Parker, Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis. Photo: RNZ

Labour leader Andrew Little has unveiled the new caucus line-up he intends to take into the 2017 election.

Auckland list MP Jacinda Ardern has moved up into the number five position from number nine. She kept her portfolios of justice and children, and also picked up associate Auckland issues.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis took the number seven spot and picked up Maori development from Nanaia Mahuta, who was demoted from number four to 12.

Ms Mahuta remains still on the front bench and has been given responsibility for conservation, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and Whanau Ora.

Labour leader Andrew Little

Labour leader Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Mr Little said the reshuffle rewarded hard work and the new shadow cabinet was a strong mix of new talent and experience.

He said he saw this line-up as a "blueprint" for a Labour cabinet but could still make changes if needed before the 2017 election.

"It has been an opportunity to bring through some of the newer, fresher talent as quickly as I can, but leavened by some experience and seniority, and that's reflected in the line up as well."

Demotions raise questions but the demoted stay loyal

Mr Little was asked why Ms Mahuta had been dropped to number 12.

"Well in the end, this was an opportunity to bring forward some of the newer and fresher talent and there isn't a place for everybody at slot number four or even on the front bench," he said.

"So this just reflects the best judgement about skills for the job, and also a refresh and newer look with the newer, fresher talent.

"It reflects a range of things about those who have worked hard, bringing them forward, giving them opportunities as as well as providing her something that reflects her strengths as well."

Mr Little said he had a "very good conversation" with Ms Mahuta this morning and that she was "very pleased with what she had got".

Ms Mahuta, the MP for Hauraki-Waikato, said the decision around the reshuffle was up to the party leader.

"He's made a determination on the team that he thinks will lead us into the next election. I've always been a contributor to the team effort of delivering a Labour government and that's been shown through my electorate," she said.

David Cunliffe

David Cunliffe Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Former party leader David Cunliffe lost the tertiary portfolio, dropped down several places - to fifth from bottom of the caucus - and was excluded from the shadow cabinet.

But Mr Little said while Mr Cunliffe had been stripped of his education role, he would be working on superannuation policy project.

"That's an expression of confidence in David Cunliffe."

Mr Little said reshuffles were about "harnessing the talent within the caucus".

"David has huge talent in... dealing with, aggregating, analysing, conceptualising huge amounts of information, often complex.

"So the role that he's got there, one that I think is very important for us as a party and actually as a country is this role I'm calling 'under-secretary to the leader on superannuation issues'."

Mr Cunliffe declined an interview but issued a statement saying he was proud to represent the people of New Lynn.

"I am determined to work towards a victory in 2017, because that's what my constituents and New Zealand so badly need."

Mr Cunliffe said he had the total support of his electorate and a strong mandate to continue his work.

Newly promoted MPs keen to repay faith

Mr Davis said he was grateful Mr Little had faith in him to do the job.

"I'm glad I've kept corrections, I've really enjoyed working in that portfolio and I'm really honoured to have the Maori development portfolio as well," Mr Davis said.

"I must pay tribute to Nanaia Mahuta as well for the work she's done over the last few months and years but I guess every Maori who gets into Parliament would really like that portfolio and now it's just about getting out there and improving outcomes for Maori."

Caucus run 21/07/15

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis was one of the big winners in the reshuffle Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Also making up the front bench were Megan Woods, who picked up the Canterbury issues portfolio, and David Parker, who came up into the number 11 position and took the portfolios of water, environment and state owned enterprises.

Phil Twyford, the MP for Te Atatu, moved up to to number four and picked up Auckland issues from Phil Goff, who will concentrate on contesting the Auckland mayoralty next year.

Dunedin North MP David Clark was up one to number nine and would take up an understudy role in health, alongside deputy leader Annette King.

Chris Hipkins, the MP for Rimutaka, retained education and also took up responsibility for tertiary education.

Peeni Henare, Jenny Salesa and Meka Whaitiri all moved into the shadow cabinet.

Mr Little said the new caucus rankings were a "blueprint" for a possible Labour cabinet.

"It has been an opportunity to bring through some of the newer, fresher talent, as quickly as I can, but leavened by some experience and some seniority and that's reflected in the line-up as well."

Other MPs not in the shadow cabinet included Clare Curran, Kris Faafoi and Phil Goff.

Trevor Mallard and Ruth Dyson were also unranked but Mr Little said they would be put forward for speaker and deputy speaker.