Audrey Young

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

Cunliffe hints at recommending Robertson for deputy

New Labour leader David Cunliffe. Photo / Natalie Slade
New Labour leader David Cunliffe. Photo / Natalie Slade

New Labour leader David Cunliffe hinted this afternoon that he will recommend Grant Robertson as his deputy at tomorrow's vote.

At a press conference at Parliament, Mr Cunliffe said he expected to make a recommendation on the position at tomorrow's caucus meeting, the first since his election yesterday.

Asked about the warring in the Labour caucus, he said "Peace is breaking out all over the place. You will see in the next couple of days just how good the detente is."

He confirmed he would be making a recommendation for the position of deputy and for the two opposition whips.

The whips are likely to be Cunliffe loyalists from the leadership battle, Iain Lees-Galloway and Sue Moroney.

Mr Robertson was deputy under David Shearer and won more support from the caucus than Mr Cunliffe did on first preference votes: Mr Cunliffe received 11 votes, Mr Robertson 16 and Shane Jones 7.

People close to Mr Robertson suggested he would not want to put himself forward as deputy without Mr Cunliffe's encouragement.

Referring to the Labour caucus Mr Cunliffe said: "There is a new train leaving the station and I want everybody on it. There will be one set of rules for all. It will be a meritocracy ... any history is history. I have no personal prejudices against any member of caucus."

Asked if he would embrace his enemies as Helen Clark had done in 1996 he said "Yes I will."

Mr Cunliffe traversed a range of issues with ease, confidence and brevity.

"We are going to a war footing," he said.

"We are going to be taking on the Key Government. We are in campaign mode from Day One and we intend to be the Government as soon as that election is called."

He said he would fight on issues, and his style was not to play the person.

Asked about John Key's leadership style he said "I think it sucks and I think it's time to change it."

He said that as a person he liked Mr Key and he had many interesting attributes.

They were backbenchers together in West Auckland before Mr Key became Prime Minister.

"That means I am not fazed by John Key. I believe I have his number and I believe he knows I do."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 02 Sep 2014 15:02:42 Processing Time: 915ms