Claire Trevett 's Opinion

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett: Shearer's reshuffle comes out of the shadows

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Labour Party leader David Shearer. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Labour Party leader David Shearer. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Imagine an alternate reality in which a disgruntled caucus member leaks Labour leader David Shearer's first draft of his reshuffle.

"Good morning and thank you for coming. The shadow Cabinet I am about to unveil is based on my determination to prove to New Zealand voters that Labour is ready to govern again, and on my belief that those same voters are hankering after a 'hands-on' Government.

I would like to emphasise that this does not mean 'old hands'. There will be no liver-spotted, horn-nailed crepey hands in my shadow Cabinet. I want to project an alternative Government that is full of vim and vigour and, most of all, full of ideas because the Government has none and I don't think I'm not full of ideas.

Trevor Mallard is an exception to my old-hands policy, having deployed the effective reshuffle technique of making a flattering, but nonetheless accurate, comparison of me to Norman Kirk. I don't think I'm not like Norman Kirk. So Trevor will be promoted to third ranking and will take over the education portfolio since he made such a good fist of it when he was a minister.

Beyond that, it's time to shake things up. I won't be bound by the convention of simply matching the Government's ministerial posts. That's buying into their game. I want my own game. I want to be the top hat on the Monopoly board, not the old boot.

Speaking of which, let me start with our new housing policy which is about children and jobs. Despite David Parker's abacus gymnastics, it has also become about cost. I need someone who can actually build the 100,000 houses to save on labour costs. Jonesy is the man I have chosen for building and construction, he has DIY experience and carpentry skills from banging the nails into his own coffin.

Jones will also take over as economic development spokesman because he has the same initials as Steven Joyce. In this, he will be assisted by Su'a William Sio as spokesman for pointing out when National has no ideas. He will be a passionate and competent trailblazer in this new portfolio, having never had an idea in his life.

Speaking of coffins, the ageing population is another issue I am determined to tackle. National has been wilfully blind on this front. We are willing to confront this head-on no matter how politically unpalatable it may be. We are willing to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs. So Jacinda Ardern (hands soft and plumpy as a baby) will become spokeswoman for arms control, and told to focus on controlling arms with bingo wings in particular. Bingo wings are getting out of control as the population ages, especially in high winds and there was that rather gruesome incident at the Cliff Richards concert.

Maryan Street will take on the roading portfolio, primarily due to her surname. National's Roads of Significance are such an extreme example of National's lack of ideas that Maryan will be assisted by a team battling for other less-advantaged roads. I will appoint associate spokespeople for roads of middling significance, of little significance and of no significance at all. There will be associate spokespeople for cul de sacs and one-way streets. I intend to appoint another for berms - because the berms are to roads what gums are to teeth and, as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, you shouldn't neglect your gums. Finally, to prove to the Labour membership that I have values steeped in Labour's long history of fighting for fairness and roading justice in this land, I will appoint myself the spokesperson for Norman Kirk Drive in Rolleston.

Iain Lees-Galloway will take on a new workstream as spokesman for voters with double-barrelled names. This, too, is about future generations. If two of them marry, will they need quadruple-barrelled names? Passports and drivers' licences are far too small for that and we urgently need some forward thinking to pre-empt that issue. Damien O'Connor has a knack for plain English so he will be charged with teaching me not to use double negatives. Grant Robertson will be charged with coming up with reasons why we don't repeal in Government what we opposed in Opposition. That includes the unlikelihood we will reverse asset sales or withdraw from the agreement to take 150 of Australia's boat people. I'm sure he will manage to find some 'intelligence' to justify backtracks.

Then there's my push to turn Waitangi Day into a carnival of Kumbaya singing. I'll need a Spokesman for Waving Your Hands in the Air and Dancing Like You Just Don't Care. That's not so much old hands as jazz hands. So that goes to David Cunliffe who has spent most of my reign dancing like he just don't care. I noticed also that he waved his hands in the air with great enthusiasm when it came to voting on the new rule which meant I needed at least 60 per cent of support from caucus to keep my job.

Subsequent to that, it has come to my attention that some of them took my encouragement to take part in Febfast a bit too literally, and chose to abstain in my recent endorsement vote rather than sup of the elixir that is my leadership. I don't think I'm not a good leader. So on that matter, I will be putting all my caucus on notice that there will be a reshuffle every three months. I have noticed that the greatest value of a reshuffle is not the result, but in the lead-up when MPs are too scared about their fate to indulge in their favourite pastime of leaking to the media. I will see you all again in June."

- NZ Herald

Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor and joined the Press Gallery in 2007. She began with the Herald in 2003 as the Northland reporter before moving to Auckland where her rounds included education and media. A graduate of AUT's post-graduate diploma in journalism, Claire began her journalism career in 2002 at the Northern Advocate in Whangarei. Claire has conjoint Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Canterbury.

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