Shearer wins Labour party leadership battle

David Shearer has emerged victorious in the race to lead the Labour Party. Grant Robertson will serve as deputy leader.

Mr Shearer, MP for Mt Albert, was the favourite to win, ahead of New Lynn MP David Cunliffe. 

Chris Hipkins has been elected chief whip and Darien Fenton junior whip.

Former leader Phil Goff quit as Labour leader following last month's election which saw Labour plummet in popularity to record its lowest vote since the 1920s.

In a short statement, Mr Cunliffe and his running mate Nanaia Mahuta congratulated the winning team. 

Mr Shearer says his victory signals a fresh start for Labour and the beginning of the journey from opposition back to Government in 2014.

“I am a fresh face for Labour and I represent a fresh start for New Zealand,” he said. He said he has seen the world at its worst – a reference to his United Nations humanitarian work in Afghanistan – and wants the best for New Zealand.

“Labour has a proud record of standing shoulder to shoulder with New Zealanders through good times and bad. But we have lost our connection with hard-working, talented Kiwis – the kind of people who are working two jobs to pay the bills or slogging their guts out building a new business. Under my leadership, we will rebuild and reconnect.

Mr Shearer says his priority was to get out around the country to listen to what Kiwis want from Labour.

“My vision for the future includes creating a clean, green and clever New Zealand and an economy that delivers benefits to all New Zealanders. All Kiwis must be able to see a future here at home – rather than dreaming of a better life overseas.

“I don’t want to see the gap between the rich and poor in this country continuing to grow. That’s why we must lift those who are struggling to survive out of poverty and into a life where they can support themselves and their families.

“John Key has indicated he is finally prepared to address the issue of poverty and will set up a ministerial committee. I call on him to be brave and open that committee up to all political parties. I want to be on it and to have the chance to offer my expertise to help us deal with the problem."

Mr Shearer stressed that the door was not closed on his competition for the leadership, David Cunliffe.

He said Mr Cunliffe had his trust and although he had not discussed specific portfolios with him, Mr Shearer expected Mr Cunliffe to hold a senior position in the new Labour line-up.

That line-up would be in place before Parliament sits next Tuesday.

Although it was a secret ballot and the final caucus vote was unknown, Mr Cunliffe believed it was a close-run contest.

He had no idea what, if any, portfolio he might be offered.

Mr Cunliffe said he had “ no leadership ambitions at this point” and was not going to walk away from either the Labour Party or Parliament.

“I'm not planning on going anywhere.” 

He would not comment on whether he thought he was the best person to be Labour's finance spokesman.

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