Claire Trevett

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

Labour all but rules out Internet-Mana

Internet Party leader Laila Harre, left, Labour leader David Cunliffe and Mana leader Hone Harawira.
Internet Party leader Laila Harre, left, Labour leader David Cunliffe and Mana leader Hone Harawira.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has all but ruled out including Internet Party leader Laila Harre and Mana leader Hone Harawira as ministers under a future Labour Government.

Speaking to media at Labour's election year Congress this morning, Mr Cunliffe told media that his preferences for support parties were NZ First and the Green Party.

It was "highly unlikely" Ms Harre and Mr Harawira would be ministers, although he would not rule out talking to Internet-Mana.

"But I don't see those parties being very likely to be part of a formal Government coalition."

Read more:
Unauthorised biography of David Cunliffe

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Mr Cunliffe also said he was open to including the Greens and NZ First in Cabinet, rather than ministers outside Cabinet.

Some of Mr Cunliffe's caucus, including Phil Goff, have strongly criticised the Internet-Mana merger to try to get the Internet Party into Parliament on the back of Hone Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau electorate. Mr Cunliffe said Labour was opposed to coattailing, but Labour would work with anyone who wanted to change the Government once the election results were in.

"That's not to say every party that might want to support a Labour Government would actually be around the Cabinet table."

Mr Cunliffe will deliver his keynote speech tomorrow.

That is also expected to focus on education, including the fate of National's fund to reward the best teachers, and policies such as National Standards which Labour opposes.

It is part of a roll-out of education policies which have so far included paying schools $100 per student if they gave up parental donations, a netbook for each student, and setting up a 15-year school upgrade programme.

Mr Cunliffe said education was fundamental to Labour's core values. "As a parent, as a Kiwi I know there is nothing more important to us than the success of our children."

Cunliffe hints at carrying on if Labour loses

Labour leader David Cunliffe says he expects to get the 60 per cent endorsement of caucus that he will need in a confidence vote soon after the election even if Labour loses the election.

Mr Cunliffe has also indicated he would seek to stay on as leader if Labour was still in Opposition. The party's rules require a caucus confidence vote within 3 months after an election at which the leader must get at least 60 per cent support.

Asked if would expect to get that endorsement even if Labour was still in Opposition, he said "I think that's quite likely."

Photos: David Cunliffe: The early years

He said he would approach that confidence vote "with good humour and determination," but was focussed on winning the election and hoped the rest of the caucus was as well.
Mr Cunliffe was elected last year with support from about one third of caucus.

Mr Cunliffe will speak to Labour's rank and file at the party's Congress briefly this afternoon before he delivers his keynote speech tomorrow and said he would tell delegates Labour could still win.

Mr Cunliffe had originally said he hoped to lift Labour into the 40s in the polls, but it is currently polling at just below 30 per cent in most.

He denied he had since lowered that target, but refused to give a new target. "What I am clear about is that we wouldn't have to get to 40 per cent to change the Government."

He said he was certain Labour would get above 30 per cent - higher than its 2011 result of 27 per cent and also expected National to drop by about 6 points by the election.

Labour will reveal its campaign slogan tomorrow and Mr Cunliffe said it would not follow National's lead of focussing strongly on the leader. He denied that was an admission that he could not beat Mr Key in personal popularity.

"It's an admission I care most about New Zealanders and less about politicians."

- NZ Herald

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