Lawyer new chief of staff for Shearer

Labour leader David Shearer has appointed lawyer and NZ Aids Foundation chairman Alastair Cameron as his new chief of staff after the resignation of Stuart Nash.

Mr Nash, a former list MP from Napier, did not get back into Parliament at last year's election because of Labour's reduced party vote, but took the job of chief of staff after Mr Shearer was elected leader in December.

He has announced he is leaving to return to Napier after only four months in the job.

Mr Shearer has now appointed Mr Cameron, a Wellington lawyer at Buddle Findlay and a friend of Labour's deputy leader, Grant Robertson. He starts on May 1.

Mr Nash said he had made it clear before he took the job that he was interested in standing for Parliament and it would not have been fair to leave as chief of staff six months before an election.

He also wanted to spend more time with his family, including a baby son, in Napier and work on building up support for Labour in that electorate.

But insiders said his departure was hastened by conflict within Mr Shearer's office.

Mr Nash and, to a lesser extent, John Pagani - another of Mr Shearer's advisers - are understood to have disagreed with his chief press secretary, Fran Mold, about the extent to which Mr Shearer should lead attacks on the Government rather than refuse to be drawn into oppositional politics.

Mr Nash is believed to have been keen for Mr Shearer to build up his "non-politician" image, focusing on being optimistic rather than engaging with National.

But Ms Mold and others in Mr Shearer's leadership team believed that was being taken too far and starving Mr Shearer of the media coverage he needed.

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