New Labour line-up to be unveiled next week

By Amelia Romanos, Herald Online staff

David Shearer with Grant Robertson after the caucus vote at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
David Shearer with Grant Robertson after the caucus vote at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

New Labour leader David Shearer expects to have his shadow portfolios organised by next week.

The former aid worker took over as leader this morning, having successfully fought off David Cunliffe for the party's top job.

He says he's proud and humbled to have been voted Labour's new leader and today vowed to create a "clean, green, clever New Zealand" while "rejuvenating" Labour.

The former aid worker also committed to giving Mr Cunliffe a senior position in the party, despite the former finance spokesman pushing Mr Shearer hard for the party leadership.

Mr Shearer's deputy will be Grant Robertson.

The numbers in today's vote weren't revealed and the ballot papers have been destroyed.

"There's only one person in this room who knows the numbers and she's not telling," Mr Shearer said. He admitted "the last two weeks have felt like a lifetime."

His priority in the next few weeks is to get out and talk to New Zealanders about how the party can reconnect with the county.

He intends handing out portfolios before Parliament sits next week, but confirmed "there will be change, I can guarantee that."

He wanted Labour to"come out of this process more energised and unified".

Mr Shearer also wants to work closely with opposition parties, saying Labour has become "a little old-fashioned in its outlook".

Mr Shearer said Labour had lost a lot of its connections with the public, and his first priority as leader would be to get out and talk to New Zealanders about how to reestablish those links.

"I want to start by looking at New Zealand through a new lens of creating a clean, green, clever New Zealand, and that's my vision.''

"I am a fresh face for Labour, and I represent a fresh start for New Zealand. When I asked my colleagues for their confidence, I asked for a mandate for change. I think we need to listen much harder, I think we need to work harder in a more unified way.''

Asked what Prime Minister John Key's weaknesses were, Mr Shearer said he would not go into that.

"He's a great communicator, he's obviously very popular, I'm hoping to bring a difference to the mix and something that will appeal to New Zealanders,'' he said.

The full Labour line-up is expected to be named by next week, with Mr Shearer aiming to hand out portfolios in time for the first Parliament sitting.

"I have not promised anybody anything in the course of this campaign, I want to look at each on their merit and their talent, and of course on the balance of what we need in the party.''

Chris Hipkins has been named as the party's senior whip, and Darien Fenton the junior whip.

When asked what his deputy brought to the table, Mr Robertson interjected to say "Good looks'', before Mr Shearer paid tribute to other qualities.

"Apart from his good looks, he brings a lot of experience of working in the party, working in the Prime Minister's office, working in ministers' offices, working here in the Opposition as well in the responsible roles, in many ways he compliments some of the things I bring as well," Mr Shearer said.

Today's meeting began at 9.45, starting with a farewell for outgoing MPs Brendon Burns and Raymond Huo before Phil Goff presented his final report as leader.

Mr Shearer's camp yesterday reported that it had the numbers to take the vote with a few to spare after the final flurry of lobbying to try to secure the undecided MPs.

Two of the 34 MPs - Maryan Street and Charles Chauvel - had proxy votes because they are overseas.

The winner needed at least 18 votes and Mr Shearer's camp believed last night he had at least 20. However, he said was wary about MPs changing their minds or going against their promises in the privacy of the secret ballot.


- NZ Herald

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