Labour leader David Shearer has appointed his former press secretary Fran Mold as his chief of staff in an attempt to tighten up the political management of his office for election year.
Fran Mold will replace Alastair Cameron who resigned from the role just over a year after he was appointed. Mr Shearer said through a spokesman that Mr Cameron had left by his own choice and Ms Mold had agreed to take on the role, despite quitting as chief press secretary earlier this year to move to Auckland with her partner.
"This is about Labour moving on to a campaign footing ahead of election year."
Mr Cameron, a lawyer and friend of deputy leader Grant Robertson, was a relative newcomer to politics when he was appointed by Mr Shearer last year and was regarded more as an administrator in the role than a political operative and vital adviser.
It is understood Mr Shearer had been looking for a suitable political adviser for some time, and asked Mold to return because of concerns Labour was struggling with its political management since her departure.
Most Labour MPs spoken to were positive about the appointment, saying Ms Mold was respected in her role as chief press secretary and had a good political nose after years as a Press Gallery journalist and a press secretary. One MP said Mr Shearer clearly needed somebody "to bring a bit of mongrel" into his office and he clearly trusted Ms Mold which was critical.
However, some also said the role of chief of staff was far broader than that of communications and Mold would have to prove she had the required strategic skills and could garner sufficient respect from MPs, the party, other staff and other parties to do the job well.
Ms Mold will be Mr Shearer's third chief of staff - Mr Cameron replaced former MP Stuart Nash. Ms Mold was appointed press secretary to former Labour leader Phil Goff in April 2010 and stayed in the role after Mr Shearer was elected as the new leader.
Prior to that she worked in the Press Gallery for TVNZ and the Herald.