Home town favourite Grant Robertson received a boost
yesterday in his quest to become Labour Party leader, with
support coming from Dunedin MPs Clare Curran and David Clark.
The Labour leader road show is in Dunedin tomorrow in
familiar territory for Mr Robertson - it will be held at the
King's and Queen's Performing Arts Centre.
Mr Robertson is a former head boy of King's High School.
He is competing for the leadership against David Cunliffe and
Ms Curran, the Dunedin South MP, and Dr Clark, the Dunedin
North MP, yesterday put out a statement backing Mr Robertson.
''We need a leader whose sense of social justice is
instinctive, someone with sound judgement who gets it right
first time. Grant Robertson is that man,'' they said.
They told the Otago Daily Times Mr Robertson grew up
in South Dunedin, one of the country's high-density and
lowest income suburbs.
''He understands what it's like to struggle. He is a kind
person and has a deep understanding what Labour can do for
The ODT asked how the two Dunedin MPs felt about their
future if Mr Robertson was not elected leader on September
Dr Clark said the leadership race was close and, initially,
he wanted people to hear the candidates and make up their own
''Members started asking me my opinion about who would be
best ... I think all can do the job but Grant is the one best
placed to take on John Key and unify the party.''
Ms Curran said the caucus vote was a significant part of the
overall vote. She wrote to all her members this week and
explained her preference.
She found people wanted her to stand up for what she
''No-one will die wondering what I think. We have to be
leaders and representatives of our community and electorate.
''People want to know we have strong opinions and I expect
those opinions will be respected,'' Ms Curran said.
University of Otago political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said
it was no surprise Ms Curran and Dr Clark supported Mr
Robertson but was surprised at the timing of the announcement
- the day before the Labour leader meeting in Dunedin.
''It's an interesting thing to do before the event. There is
some risk of push back from the rank and file if it is seen
as an attempt to influence the vote at the meeting. But there
is no rule against it.''
Asked how the MPs would fare if Mr Cunliffe won, Dr Edwards
said there seemed an overwhelming desire within the party for
unity and there was talk of the winner bringing his opponents
into the fold.
Dr Clark had yet to reach his peak in Parliament and was
likely to be promoted no matter who was the leader.
But Ms Curran's career ''could be bleak'' under Mr Cunliffe's
leadership, Dr Edwards said.
While both Messrs Robertson and Cunliffe can claim
connections to Dunedin, having both studied and graduated
from the University of Otago, Mr Jones has less obvious ties.
He said in an interview his former chairmanship of Sealord
gave him the opportunity to travel around the South Island
and he was looking forward to give his views on what he could
bring to the leadership.
''This gum-digger is coming to meet the gold-miners. I love
Dunedin. I have a few rellies down there.''
One of Mr Jones' pledges to Otago was if he became a Labour
prime minister, he would ensure government services would be
relocated to Dunedin, even before his own province of
''If Treasury doesn't like it, well, they can go to
Blackball,'' he said.
Former Labour Party candidate Tat Loo is the convener of a
regional economic community event at which Mr Cunliffe will
speak tomorrow before the leadership meeting.
Mr Loo said he had stepped back from being an active party
member this year but was hosting the event after being asked
to do so as a personal favour.
Caucus gets 40% of the vote, the party membership 40% and
trade unions 20%.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is the
largest Labour-affiliated union and about 200 of its
conference delegates will vote on the leadership.
The other unions voting (in order of size) are: the Service
and Food Workers Union, the Meat Workers Union, the Dairy
Workers Union, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union and the