David Parker has been confirmed as deputy to new Labour
leader David Cunliffe after Mr Cunliffe's strongest leadership
rival Grant Robertson made it clear he didn't want the job.
Mr Cunliffe has made it abundantly clear in public statements
that had Mr Robertson wanted to be his second in command he
would have recommended him for the sake of party unity.
Instead Mr Robertson has opted for a role as shadow Leader of
the House, Mr Cunliffe confirmed.
Until now that has been undertaken by senior MP Trevor
Mallard - currently in San Francisco watching the America's
Mr Parker will remain Labour's finance spokesman.
Cunliffe supporters Sue Moroney and Ian Lees-Galloway have
been elected senior and junior whip respectively, replacing
Robertson loyalists Chris Hipkins and Darien Fenton.
Mr Robertson's decision to stay out of Mr Cunliffe's
leadership team has already sparked suggestions that
divisions between Mr Robertson's supporters and Mr Cunliffe
have not healed.
Prime Minister John Key told reporters at Parliament the
decision showed "shows how deep the rifts are within the
Labour Party caucus".
"In the end if they were really a united caucus they needed
to bring the two parts of the equation together and
essentially they've failed to do that.
"What that shows you is the Robertson camp isn't really
backing David Cunliffe so that will spell problems for him
Mr Cunliffe won the three-way leadership contest on Sunday
against Mr Robertson and Shane Jones, but Mr Robertson won
much more support in the caucus, 16 votes to Mr Cunliffe's 11
and Mr Jones' seven.
Mr Robertson and Mr Cunliffe met yesterday to discuss their
preferences and both said the decision was mutual.
Mr Cunliffe spoke to reporters at Parliament before today's
caucus meeting, flanked by Mr Robertson, Mr Jones, Mr Parker
and President Moira Coatsworth.
"Today we are joined together. We are putting the party
first," Mr Cunliffe began.
Mr Robertson's talents would be used as the "spearhead" in
"We are both very comfortable about where we have got to on
Mr Cunliffe said Mr Parker, Mr Robertson and Mr Jones would
all be part of a strong economic and employment team.
Mr Robertson said he and Mr Cunliffe had come to a
"consensus" that the proposed line-up was the strongest
possible "and I absolutely endorse and support it".
Mr Parker is a Dunedin-based list MP. He played his cards
very close to his chest during the latest leadership contest
although it is thought he voted for Mr Jones.
He was a senior minister in Helen Clark's Government, holding
the portfolios of climate change issues, energy and state
services, and was Attorney-General.
He took over as finance spokesman from Mr Cunliffe in
December 2011 when the leadership changed from Phil Goff to
Mr Parker had originally thrown his hat into the ring as a
leadership contender with Grant Robertson as his deputy after
Mr Goff stepped down. He withdrew when Mr Shearer stood and
Mr Robertson indicated he would back Mr Shearer over Mr
- Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald