Claire Trevett

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

Robertson likely big winner in reshuffle

Grant Roberts. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Grant Roberts. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader Phil Goff's reshuffle of his shadow Cabinet is expected to bring at least three changes to the front bench, including the elevation of party whip Darren Hughes to education spokesman and first-term MP Grant Robertson to health.

Mr Goff is expected to announce the reshuffle tomorrow and current whip and transport spokesman Darren Hughes is tipped to be rewarded by getting education from Trevor Mallard to tackle Education Minister Anne Tolley.

Mr Mallard could do an almost direct swap with Mr Hughes, taking a smaller portfolio but picking up the job of shadow leader of the House - a role he has already shown some enthusiasm for. It would see him take a larger strategic role in the chamber after a successful year of tackling National on procedure and testing the Speaker.

The main casualty is expected to be Ruth Dyson, who is likely to lose health after two years in which she has barely dented minister Tony Ryall. It would make way for Mr Robertson to move up to the front bench and into a major role.

Yesterday Nanaia Mahuta confirmed to the Herald she would also step back from her front bench position to concentrate on family, although she said she intended to stand for election again this year. She had her first baby last November and said she hoped to further increase her brood. She also wanted to concentrate on her electorate this year.

Shane Jones is likely to move up to the front bench eight months after he was stripped of his spokesmanships and demoted for using his ministerial credit card for personal purchases, including porn movies. He later repaid the money.

However, it is understood his roles are still under discussion. Maori affairs is the most natural fit for Mr Jones - one of Labour's most potent weapons in attacking the Maori Party's coalition with National.

However, Mr Goff is understood to be reluctant to upset Parekura Horomia. The spokesmanship could be split between Mr Horomia and Mr Jones, who could also share Treaty negotiations with Maryan Street. Mr Horomia is yet to confirm if he will stand again, but sources say he will.

Much of the action is expected to be in the mid-benches, where gaps will be left by the looming resignations of Pete Hodgson, Lynne Pillay and George Hawkins and the recent departures of Winnie Laban and Chris Carter.

Mr Robertson is likely to be the only first-term MP to move to the front bench, but others tipped to get weightier roles include Kelvin Davis, Jacinda Ardern and Stuart Nash.

- NZ Herald

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