Labour MP David Parker at Dunedin Railway Station. Photo by
David Parker pledged his loyalty to the South after his
election yesterday as deputy leader of the Labour Party.
The election of Mr Parker - a list MP who has a house in
Dunedin, visits the city two weekends out of three and still
calls the city his base - provides Labour with South coverage
to complement Mr Cunliffe's coverage of the North as MP for
Prime Minister John Key is Auckland based, while Deputy Prime
Minister Bill English is the MP for Clutha-Southland.
Mr Parker said in an interview people still talked about left
and right in politics.
He believed the divide was more about ''cosy capitalism'',
where government policy was decided deal by deal.
Policies that seemed contentious at the last election, such
as a capital gains tax and higher tax for those earning more
than $150,000 a year, were more widely supported.
Mr Parker supported lifting the minimum wage to $15 and said
there was no difference between himself and leader David
Cunliffe on the living wage proposal of $18.40 an hour.
It was wrong that half of the children in New Zealand living
in poverty had two working parents and Labour wanted to lift
the wages and living standards of those New Zealanders.
Too much money was going into the speculative economy,
driving up Auckland house prices, and not enough into the
productive economy, creating jobs, he said.
''The changes we are proposing will benefit regions, such as
Mr Parker said he was Mr Cunliffe's preferred nomination for
deputy leader, former deputy and leadership contender Grant
Robertson becoming shadow Leader of the House and taking on
the employment portfolio.
Mr Robertson says he did not want the deputy leadership role,
avoiding any chance of an acrimonious vote.
The third leadership contender, Shane Jones, will become
economic development spokesman, a role until now held by
Dunedin North MP David Clark.
Earlier yesterday, sources told the Otago Daily Times that
Messrs Cunliffe, Robertson and Jones met to talk about roles
after it was announced that Mr Cunliffe had won the
The three men had bonded well during the three weeks they
spent on the road campaigning for the leadership and wanted
that bond to transfer across to caucus.
''They are determined to make it work and the whole caucus
needs to keep that in mind. Any disloyalty will be tramped on
by the whole of caucus,'' a source said.
Mr Parker was seen as not being offside with Mr Cunliffe on
either personality or policy issues. He had wide support in
caucus and had worked across all factions.
Mr Robertson was seen as an astute political manager and
someone who could challenge Leader of the House Gerry
Brownlee on procedure, and Mr Jones had made inroads into
converting back to Labour some of the 800,000 people who did
not vote at the last election.
Labour caucus members will have a one-on-one interview with
Mr Cunliffe to talk about their aspirations, but the new
leader already has made some changes.
Apart from Mr Parker, Mr Cunliffe has elevated supporters Sue
Moroney and Iain Lees-Galloway to senior and junior whip
respectively, former whips Chris Hipkins and Darien Fenton
Mr Cunliffe said he and Mr Robertson mutually agreed he
should become shadow Leader of the House. Trevor Mallard, the
former shadow Leader of the House, is in San Francisco for
the America's Cup racing.
Dr Clark, seen as a future high-flier for Labour, may shift
down the caucus rankings one or two places as Mr Cunliffe
accommodates other MPs. However, he is likely to regain the
role of tax spokesman, a job he made a good fist of when he
was up against long-serving former revenue minister Peter
Dunne. Dr Clark's support for Mr Robertson is unlikely to
count against him.
Dr Clark could also secure an associate finance role
alongside Mr Parker, for whom he worked when Mr Parker drove
through the former Labour government's emission trading
policy into law.
The future for Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is less certain.
She also supported Mr Robertson but blotted her copy book
with a tweet accusing supporters of Mr Cunliffe of playing
the ''gay card''. Mr Jones took to Twitter to criticise her.