Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Cunliffe has sights set on long-term leadership of party

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe during his speech to the party's pre-election congress in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour Party leader David Cunliffe during his speech to the party's pre-election congress in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

David Cunliffe would like to remain Labour leader and take the party into the 2017 election, even if the party loses at the September 20 election.

"In general, and with any new leader, you go through a learning curve," he said.

"I think there is a very strong argument that it would be a waste of time, energy and resources to go through that process and start again."

Asked if he planned to stay on no matter what the result, he said, "Unless I feel like I have done such a bad job that it would be in the interests of the party for me not to put myself forward - if that question arises."

Mr Cunliffe was speaking in the Herald's Hot Seat series, video interviews of party leaders running on nzherald.co.nz.

Mr Cunliffe suggested he had been handicapped by having been Labour leader for only a year.

Having lost a leadership contest after Labour's loss in the 2011 election, he was elected in September last year after David Shearer stepped down.

It was also difficult for an Opposition party being up against the resources of state.

But he was having fun on the campaign and many Labour supporters were campaigning hard.

Speaking about the shape of a Labour-led government, Mr Cunliffe said he would like to put a "solid coalition" potentially across Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First.

It was clear that the largest coalition governed, not the largest party.

"So there is every possibility of putting together a governing coalition across Labour, the Greens and potentially New Zealand First."

Mr Cunliffe has ruled out having Internet-Mana MPs in ministerial positions but is open to a confidence and supply agreement.

The decision was "really a matter about New Zealanders' comfort levels" with a new party that had no track record and was bankrolled by Kim Dotcom.

He would not comment on the desire of the Green co-leaders, Metiria Turei and Russel Norman, to become co-deputy Prime Ministers.

But he reiterated that the finance portfolio would definitely stay with Labour.

- NZ Herald

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