Labour reshuffle leaves Jones in limbo
"Yep... Russel wants finance all right, but kingmaker Winnie will also want it as the price for his team joining the left."Featured comment
Shane Jones' position on Labour's front bench remains in limbo.
In a caucus reshuffle, Labour leader David Shearer has kept Mr Jones at No 7 on the list and left a position open to him, depending on the outcome of the auditor-general's investigation into his actions as associate immigration minister in 2008.
At that time, Mr Jones granted citizenship to Chinese millionaire Bill Liu, despite being advised by the Internal Affairs department not to.
Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel are the two biggest losers in the reshuffle, dropping off Mr Shearer's Top 20. That means neither MP would make cabinet if Mr Shearer was to form a government tomorrow.
He says Mr Mallard and Ms Dalziel will continue to hold important roles and both have acknolwedged the need for renewal.
He would not be drawn on their reaction to the demotion. "I'm not going to talk about the conversations I had with them."
Mr Shearer says his fresh line-up of MPs is "energised" and says they are excited about taking the fight to the government and setting out Labour's new direction for New Zealand.
"My new team is a mix of new talent and experienced hands.
"My decisions have been driven by the need for us to be firmly focused on the challenges facing New Zealand, which includes jobs, growing our economy, delivering a world class education for kids and tackling the housing affordability crisis."
"National's hands-off approach has failed."
Reflecting Mr Shearer's emphasis on creating jobs and growing the economy, he has handed the new portfolio of employment, skills and training to his right-hand man, Grant Robertson.
Despite being an "exceptionally talented MP," serial party disrupter David Cunliffe has been left lingering close to the party's cellar-dweller position.
He retains associate finance, while also picking up the portfolios of fisheries and revenue from "rising star" Dunedin MP David Clark, who has been promoted to the economic development portfolio.
"Mr Cunliffe is a talented MP and this gives him the opportunity to play a constructive role in the Labour team," Mr Shearer says. He emphasised the word "constructive".
Mr Shearer hopes, given time, Mr Cunliffe can return to a full front-bench role.
He says Mr Clark has the intellectual grunt to take on economic development minister Steven Joyce.
Mr Clark admits Mr Joyce is a tough customer and is good at communicating and "staying on message". However, he believes the minister does have his weaknesses and the public is starting to realise he has no credible plan to grow job numbers.
But when asked if he had a plan, he said it was too soon to say when there will be one from Labour.
Maryan Street has lost the health portfolio to former health minister Annette King, who edges ahead to No 6 on the party list. Ms King will be Labour's fourth health spokesperson in as many years.
"I think what we'll see with Annette King coming on board is some real firepower. Annette comes in with not only the enthusiasm and experience, but also a real taste for new ideas." Mr Shearer says.
Phil Twyford takes on Mrs King's former housing portfolio.
Ms King says Mr Mallard and Ms Dalziel will understand the need to step aside for the greater good of the party, "just as Phil Goff and I stood down at the end of 2011".