Labour reshuffles for strongest team

David Cunliffe.
David Cunliffe.
Labour Party leader David Cunliffe appears to have put personal differences aside as he reshuffles his top caucus line-up for the September 20 election.

Despite some minor tinkering at the top, following the resignation of list MP Shane Jones, Mr Cunliffe has his strongest possible team now available to take on a Government beleaguered by ongoing scandals.

The most significant move is the appointment of veteran MP Trevor Mallard as the spokesman for immigration and internal affairs, ensuring Dunedin-based list MP and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse will not have an easy ride in coming weeks.

Mr Mallard, one of Labour's hardest MPs had been languishing on the backbenches following Mr Cunliffe's election as leader.

However, the South Island has not been treated well, with its highest-ranked MP, Maryan Street, demoted to 16th on the list.

Next highest are West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor at 19 and Dunedin North MP David Clark at 20.

Ms Street gets tertiary education, pushing one of the most important portfolios for the Government down Labour's priority list.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has ended her time in the wilderness, regaining her prized role as ICT spokeswoman.

After supporting Grant Robertson in the leadership contest, Ms Curran found herself as associate ICT spokeswoman with Mr Cunliffe taking on the full responsibility.

Also elevated in the reshuffle was Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford, who moves from 11 to six on the rankings.

He is responsible for housing, transport and Auckland issues.

Mr Cunliffe appears to be making a serious attempt to take on the Government in economic and regional development.

He retains the role of regional development and has appointed Mr Robertson as economic development spokesman with Mr Mallard as his associate.

Returning MP Kelvin Davis is associate spokesman on regional development.

The top 10 Labour MPs are: Mr Cunliffe (leader, security and intelligence, regional development) 1; David Parker (deputy leader, finance, attorney-general) 2; Grant Robertson (shadow leader of the House, economic development, employment skills and training) 3; Annette King (health) 4; Jacinda Ardern (children, police, corrections) 5; Phil Twyford (housing, transport, Auckland issues) 6; Clayton Cosgrove (SOEs, commerce, building and construction, Earthquake Commission) 7; Nanaia Mahuta (Maori affairs, Treaty negotiations) 8; Chris Hipkins (education) 9; Sue Moroney (senior whip, social development) 10.

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