Labour line up – in detail

I would apologise for the flurry of posts about David Shearer’s first shadow cabinet announcement, but if you don’t like that sort of thing, you’re not reading this blog anyway.

In this post I’m going to go through the announcements and pick out some of the more interesting moves. I’ll leave looking at the commentary surrounding the announcement until tomorrows Morning Reading post. I’m going to try to focus on the positive aspects, I don’t want this to devolve into a slagging match.

Before I get into the MP by MP details, here are some general thoughts…

As Patrick Gower said, it’s “out with the old, in with the new”. The rejuvenation project Helen Clark started with the 2008 list has finally come to fruition. Shearer has been bold enough to move some old war-horses off the front bench, and given the party the new fresh face it needs so badly.

He’s also done a very impressive job with bringing Cunliffe and Mahuta back into the tent. The next few months will show how that works out, but both should be pleased with where they are now.

From David Shearer himself, the key quote: “Talent comes first and foremost”. Excellent.

And now looking at some of the individual MPs…

David Shearer – Science and Innovation and Grant Robertson – Environment. As I said in my earlier post, this is the firmest signal that Shearer has sent about the future policy direction for the party. On Shearer’s first day in office he was talking about a ‘clean, green, clever’ New Zealand – and he sure as hell means it. This is not lip service.

David Parker – Finance. A smart move. Parker is a very bright cookie and has the brains and work ethic to lead Labour’s finance policy. And with four associates, he won’t be wanting for helpers… (four associates does seem rather odd)

Jacinda Ardern – Social Development. The biggest promotion outside the leadership. Huge stuff. Jacinda really needs to prove herself or there will be others nipping at her heels. Can she do it? I sure as hell hope so.

David Cunliffe – Economic Development and Associate Finance. A very sensible position. Still at a very impressively high position (number five) and in a great position. If he can make some big hits against Steven Joyce then he may well expect a promotion to three or four. Putting Cunliffe here proves that Shearer is serious about re-uniting the party.

Nanaia Mahuta – Education, Associate Māori Affairs (Social). A very big promotion for Nanaia again proves that Shearer is keen to fight National with a united Labour front bench. Education is a big portfolio and will be a challenge, hopefully she’s up to it.

Maryan Street – Health, Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Foreign Affairs. Again, a big portfolio with health Maryan has a lot of work in front of her. Interesting that she didn’t drop Foreign Affairs entirely – heaven knows Goff will be fine on his own.

Phil Twyford – Transport, Auckland Issues, Associate Environment. Excellent. Twyford is just the man for the transport portfolio. He has the brains, skills and connections in the sector to get some wins on the board with this portfolio, which Labour has struggled to do much with in the last term.

Lianne Dalziel – Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Earthquake Commission.  Say hello to Labour’s Earthquake Czarina. Lianne will do a fantastic job with this sort of stuff, good to see her taking over the portfolio.

Phil Goff – Foreign Affairs. A good, dignified place for Phil. He knows the portfolio inside out. His speech on Afganistan was one of his highlights as leader. I expect good things.

Annette King – Housing, Local Government. An interesting combination to be sure.

Moana Mackey – Energy, Climate Change. A subject area Moana is very knowledgable about. Will tie in nicely with Shearer’s theme of a ‘clean, green, clever’ NZ.

Raymond Huo – Building and Construction. This is pretty out of the blue. It will be interesting to see what he does with the portfolio…

Kris Faafoi – Police. Good to see Kris take on a beefier portfolio. A big chance to prove himself.

4 thoughts on “Labour line up – in detail”

  1. great to see Twyford in the transport portfolio. He seems to already have been leading a lot of the Auckland related stuff while the previous spokes-people have been invisible and up for endless criticsim on transport blogs. Hopefully will be able to catch up with the greens now in this area.
    Also why do we have a spokesperson for the Americas cup still?

    1. Good question about the America’s Cup portfolio. I would have thought it could have been bundled up into Sport portfolio. Maybe worth asking Trevor if it is one of the ministries he would axe?

  2. In my musings about the shitty state of world economic affairs, and america’s slide into chronic mismanagement, a little refrain from cicero has been buzzing in my ear. He wrote an essay in which he commends old age to young men. It’s essentially a list of things in which old men have the advantage over young or middle aged men. And, he asks at one point, ‘what state, being run by young men, did not swiftly come to ruin?’ And it got me wondering whether some of the excesses that we’ve seen in debt-driven capitalism and in war might have been mitigated if our western cultures gave people of advanced age a greater formal role in the running of things. Because the shonky decision making is quite an oddity and it begs for explanation. And i wonder if the question ‘where are our old people?’ might represent a fruitful line of thinking. Turning to our shadow cabinet, i do have a sense of unease over the lack of older people. I wonder if phil goff’s resignation as leader reflects badly on our culture. Cicero would have raised his eyebrows at the current labour list, and he was a pretty shrewd statesman. I’m excited about some aspects of the list, but it also makes me feel uneasy – not so much about labour or the decisionmakers, but about the culture to which this kind of list is intelligible. To give a bit of balance to what i’m saying, i’m well aware of the weaknesses in governance in korea’s chaebols and japan’s showa-hangover old boys’ networks (and in this context one only need mention the name of jiang zemin to demonstrate how the sins of china’s grandfathers can be visited on their offspring). I just wonder if, from 2014, we’d be better off with a few more of their problems and a few less of our own.

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