Little gives himself a new portfolio
Labour Party leader Andrew Little has given himself a new portfolio – New Economy – and put his sometime critic Stuart Nash into the innovation, science, research and technology portfolio in a shadow Cabinet reshuffle,
David Parker, the architect of much of the party's innovation and R&D policy, moves to foreign affairs to replace departing MP David Shearer, who will take up a United Nations leadership role in South Sudan next month, triggering a by-election in the Auckland electorate of Mt Albert.
Another winner in the rejigged line-up is Clare Curran, who moves into the shadow Cabinet, taking over the information communications technology portfolio, which includes telecommunications regulation, from David Cunliffe, who is retiring from politics at the next election.
The senior parliamentary whip, Chris Hipkins, adds tertiary education to his existing education portfolio responsibilities and will remain shadow leader of the House, although Kris Faafoi is being lined up to become senior whip, with Mr Little nominating him for the role in a caucus vote to be taken next February.
Climate change spokeswoman Megan Woods adds the state services portfolio to her load.
Of the new economy portfolio – which has been a much-used slogan since the 1990s – Mr Little says it reflects Labour's commitment to "growing wealth in the economy through greater innovation and productivity."
The party's finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, led a two-year Future of Work Commission process that was unveiled at the party's annual conference last month, touting a goal to make ICT New Zealand's second largest export earner after tourism and ahead of the dairy and wine industries.
Michael Wood, who entered Parliament after winning the Mt Roskill by-election earlier this month to replace Phil Goff after his election as mayor of Auckland, will be the spokesman for consumer affairs, ethnic communities and revenue.
Mr Nash's promotion is notable because it places the Napier MP at Mr Little's right hand on new economy issues, despite being fingered for his involvement on the right of the Labour caucus, including supporting the ultimately unsuccessful candidacy of Nick Leggett for the Mt Roskill selection. Leggett, who failed to win the Wellington mayoralty over favoured Labour candidate Justin Lester, was described as a "right-wing" candidate by Mr Little and has recently declared a desire to stand for Parliament for the National Party.