Labour leader David Cunliffe has ejected MPs from the
caucus room to turn it into a war room, moving all key
political staff into a vast open-plan office.
The new strategy office is the brain-child of chief of staff
Matt McCarten and is aimed at making sure the party is
co-ordinated and quick on its feet. Labour MPs will now be
sent downstairs to a smaller room for their weekly meetings.
The traditional Opposition caucus room on the third floor of
Parliament House is now the office space for about 18 staff
from the Labour leader's office, including its research unit
and its communications and media teams. There are also "hot
desks" for the directors of those units to work from when
A spokesman for Mr Cunliffe said it was to make communication
easier and ensure Labour could react swiftly to unfolding
political situations, as well as giving MPs a one-stop place
to go to discuss issues.
Labour and Mr Cunliffe are both still struggling to make any
gains in the polls, but party president Moira Coatsworth said
there had been a surge of interest at a grassroots level.
Party membership had doubled last year, during which Labour
held the first leadership election in which members could
vote. She said there were also more hopeful candidates
seeking selection, even in unwinnable seats.
The party has completed selections for all but seven
electorates, including Tamaki Makaurau. The closing date for
Tamaki Makaurau nominations has been extended again to the
end of this month to wait for a TVNZ inquiry into former
Maori programming head Shane Taurima, who is a possible
candidate. Mr Taurima had to resign from TVNZ after it was
found he had attended Labour Party meetings within TVNZ and
had failed to tell his bosses he was still involved with the
Shane Jones has withdrawn from the selection for the
Northland electorate, clearing the way for lawyer and
district councillor Willow Jean Prime. It is a safe National
seat and Mr Jones said he was happy to run on the list alone.
He denied he was being kept in reserve in case he was needed
to stand in Tamaki Makaurau if Mr Taurima did not stand. Ms
Coatsworth said it was still possible Mr Jones would stand in
Labour campaign director David Talbot has launched a
volunteer recruitment tool called "I'm In" on Labour's
website which has so far collected at least 2000 names.
- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald