While David Shearer was voted in on the promise of being the new broom, his first front bench line-up was always going to require a balance between clearing out the dead wood and the need for unity - particularly in the notoriously factionalised Labour Party.

Audrey Young points out that leadership battles can do lasting damage but thinks that Shearer has only done the minimum required to keep Cunliffe's camp onside. She says that Cunliffe supporters have been largely shut out from the shadow cabinet and ponders whether they have been punished, aren't as smart as they think they are or even if there aren't that many of them in reality.

John Hartevelt has a good analysis in Shearer shuffles the deck and Cunliffe has front bench spot as consolation. He, like most commentators, notes that some newly promoted faces have big tasks ahead of them, in particular Jacinda Ardern who has to go head-to-head with Paula Bennett, and Nanaia Mahuta, who now has the education portfolio. Where there are winners there are losers and so Sue Moroney. Ruth Dyson, Parekura Horomia and Moana Mackey all suffer significant drops in ranking, although Horomia retains Maori Affairs.

Most interest was in Cunliffe's position and, as predicted, he was given economic development, although as Patrick Gower observes, Cunliffe's ranking of five probably isn't a true reflection of his abilities relative to the newcomers he will sit next to.


Dene Mackenzie in the ODT points out that David Parker has four associate spokespeople to keep him company, including Cunliffe, Shane Jones, Clayton Cosgrove and Trevor Mallard. That's a lot of experience and ego to be backing up one person. Mackenzie wonders whether Parker will end up competing with his associates for speaking time.

Shane Jones almost completes his political rehabilitation with Regional and Maori Economic Development portfolios but may already be proving a handful. He has followed up his previous comments about supporting iwi buying state assets by now advocating mining for employment growth in the regions, Shearer, who reportedly spent $300,000 on land in Northland in order to save a rare duck, clearly still has some balancing to do managing his new line up. The Labour left will be suspicious of Jones, particularly when right-wingers like David Farrar praise him for appearing to support National policy. Jones will have to do more than just make provocative statements however, and he all but admits that he needs to up his work rate around parliament to shed his reputation for being lazy.

In other news, all MPs managed to get work started today, despite unhappiness from Hone Harawira and the Greens over Lockwood Smith trying to stop MPs adding allegiance to New Zealand and their constituents to the oath to the Queen.

Mike Booker (idealog): Who'll boss the kiss - NZI or the Roundtable? examines the merger between the Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute and wonders which of their quite different world-views will dominate the new organisation.

Dr Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He writes a blog at: www.liberation.org.nz