David Cunliffe says he used a page from Helen Clark's
playbook in his shadow Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, embracing
at least some caucus colleagues who supported his rivals during
Labour's leadership contest.
Little more than a year out from the next election, Mr
Cunliffe kept a steady hand on the wheel, with just two new
faces, including his own, on Labour's eight-strong front
The other new entrant is Chris Hipkins, who went public with
his criticism of Mr Cunliffe after his abortive coup late
last year against the then leader, David Shearer.
Mr Hipkins has been promoted two places to number eight and
keeps his education portfolio.
Jacinda Ardern, who supported Grant Robertson for leader,
loses the key social development portfolio to Cunliffe
supporter Sue Moroney but has dropped just two places to
number six and picks up the weighty police and corrections
Annette King, who also supported Mr Robertson, keeps her
health portfolio and rises two places to four.
Filling out the front bench are deputy leader and finance
spokesman David Parker at number two, shadow leader of the
House and employment skills and training spokesman Mr
Robertson at three, economic development spokesman Shane
Jones at five and state-owned enterprises spokesman Clayton
Cosgrove at seven.
Mr Cunliffe said it hadn't proved difficult to embrace people
who had opposed his leadership bid. "The day I got the job I
became the servant of the whole caucus and I'm here for the
Mr Hipkins, who is the type of attack dog Mr Cunliffe said he
wanted on the front bench, was promoted "because he is a very
able colleague and I, personally, believe that he belongs on
the front bench to take the fight to the Government in a
portfolio in which he does extremely well".
In the 1990s, Helen Clark - then leader - responded to
rivalries within her caucus by giving prospective challenger
Michael Cullen and his supporters prominent roles. Mr
Cunliffe acknowledged her influence in his choices. "That was
certainly a model I had in mind."
But despite the fact that Mr Cunliffe's leadership bid was
opposed by most of Labour's MPs - particularly the so-called
ABC (Anyone But Cunliffe) group - the new leader said
"there's been no hatchet to bury; we are a united team".
The ABCs had been renamed "All Behind Cunliffe", he quipped.
But some MPs who didn't back him during the leadership race
were not so fortunate. Housing spokesman Phil Twyford keeps
his portfolio but loses his front bench spot, dropping three
places to 11. Formerly up-and-coming Dunedin North MP David
Clark, who had already lost his economic development
portfolio to Mr Jones, fell eight places to number 20.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, who criticised Mr Cunliffe's
supporters for citing Mr Robertson's homosexuality during the
leadership contest, loses her information and communications
technology portfolio to Mr Cunliffe.
Full list of Labour's caucus: visit http://tinyurl.com/labourreshuffle