20 Dec 2011

Shearer opts for new-look Labour caucus

6:11 am on 20 December 2011

Labour leader David Shearer says his new caucus line-up will take a fresh look at the party's priorities.

At Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Shearer announced that David Parker, ranked third, would take over the Finance portfolio from David Cunliffe.


Mr Cunliffe, who sought the leadership, has been given the Economic Development portfolio and is ranked No 5.

There are three new faces on the front bench, starting at the top with the leader himself; deputy leader Grant Robertson, who becomes environment spokesperson; and Jacinda Ardern at No 4 who is Social Development spokesperson.

Mr Shearer has taken the Security Intelligence Service and Science and Innovation portfolios, while Mr Robertson has responsibility for the Environment and Tertiary Education.

The MP David Cunliffe wanted as his deputy during the contest, Nanaia Mahuta, also makes it back to the front bench, becoming the Education spokesperson.

The front bench is rounded off by Clayton Cosgrove and Shane Jones.

Fresh look for party

David Shearer says Labour's team has to look fresh, act differently and distance itself from past governments which have been rejected by voters.


Auckland list MP Jacinda Ardern is the biggest mover in the caucus and was ranked 19th until Monday. Mr Shearer believes she is a huge talent.

"People who have seen her in the house and seen her perform will agree with me. She is also really hard-working and she's been tracking that (Social Development) portfolio over the last three years as well."

The Labour leader says David Parker is a forensic thinker and will bring a different approach to finance.

"I'm not saying that it will be better or worse - I think it'll just be very different.


"I think that very detailed work that he will do around that will provide a different emphasis in perhaps in an area where we can drill down in what the Government's planning to do."

David Cunliffe says he would have been happy to continue in the finance role.

"But I understand that that was promised to others, so those are circumstances that one accepts in these kind of situations, and one gets on and does the very best for one's team."

Mr Cunliffe says the public will now see an energised and proficient top team in Labour.

Former leader Phil Goff has been given the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, while his deputy leader, Annette King, gets Housing and Local Government. They are ranked 16th and 17th, respectively.

Labour's top 10 and portfolios

1 - David Shearer: Labour Party leader, Security Intelligence Service, Science and Innovation

2 - Grant Robertson: Deputy leader, Environment, Tertiary Education, skills and training

3 - David Parker: Finance

4 - Jacinda Ardern: Social Development

5 - David Cunliffe: Economic Development, Associate Finance

6 - Clayton Cosgrove: State Owned Enterprises, Commerce, Small Business, Trade Negotiations, Associate Finance

7 - Shane Jones: Regional Development, Associate Finance, Economic Development (Maori), Fisheries.

8 - Nanaia Mahuta: Education, Associate Maori Affairs (Social).

9 - Maryan Street: Health, Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Foreign Affairs

10 - Su'a William Sio: Employment, Pacific Island Affairs, Inter-Faith Dialogue, Associate Foreign Affairs