Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: December 15

Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. Photo / Mark Mitchell

While attention has been focused on Labour's leadership, the Maori Party's leadership ructions have gone largely under the radar, despite clear indications of internal tensions. The party is trying to dismiss it as a 'faux pas' by President Pem Bird - see Kate Chapman's Maori Party stands by its leaders - but there is clearly some substance behind the usual disorganisation, with conflicting public statements and meetings cancelled at the last minute.

Although the issue seems to have been resolved in the meantime, Claire Trevett reports that it will be raised again in the new year and that Tariana Turia's offer to give up some ministerial roles to Te Ururoa Flavell in 2014 will put pressure on Pita Sharples do likewise (Sharples holds on to top Maori Party vote). Sharples himself, on RNZ's Morning report was very lukewarm on the idea (listen here). It would be entirely understandable for Flavell to be keen to boost his profile and responsibilities as soon as possible.

After all, he will be the lone Maori Party MP campaigning in 2014, not just in his own seat where he faces a serious challenge from Mana's Annette Sykes, but for the Maori Party's very existence.

The problem was that no-one appeared to have talked to Sharples beforehand and he clearly isn't keen to finish his career on the backbenches. A by-election in Tamaki-Makaurau would be a disaster for the Maori Party so they really had no option but to endorse Sharples and try again later.

Speculation on Labour's front bench has begun. Big promotions are predicted for Jacinda Ardern, Phil Twyford, Su'a William Sio - see Claire Trevett's Cunliffe asks for time to figure out next steps.

But attempts to refresh the party are already being stymied by Phil Goff announcing that he intends to stick around - see Claire Trevett's Phil Goff: 'I don't intend to stand down'. However, ex-deputy Annette King is apparently ready to depart for a new career in local body politics. Cameron Slater provides some useful information about the past parliamentary professional roles of many of Labour's 'fresh faces' - see: Fresh? Ctd.

Attention is shifting to Grant Robertson, with a profile today by Audrey Young (Deputy Grant Robertson moving up in the world). Young points out that 'Shearer is an avowed centrist, Mr Robertson has been the unofficial leader of Labour left'.

Other articles worth reading today include Gordon Campbell's On Peter Dunne's casting vote on asset sales, in which he doubts Opposition claims that Dunne's support for asset sales is a flip flop from his pre-election position; Chris Trotter's very good analysis of National's future coalition tensions (National's High Tide); and Brian Fallow's Does NZ really need 28 ministers? , which contrasts the fiscal discipline being preached with the expansion of the government executive, largely for political purposes. The end of year ratings for MPs are starting to appear - see, in particular, Tracy Watkins and Kate Chapman's Most valuable politicians decided and Duncan Garner's Politics 2011: The good, the bad, the awful.

- NZ Herald

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Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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