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Room left for Greens in Labour reshuffle

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, February 26th, 2013 - 49 comments
Categories: election 2014, greens, labour - Tags:

I think the Labour reshuffle is quite clever in how it signals the portfolios that its willing to give to the Greens and encourages them to set about being lead opposition spokespeople on those topics. Sure, the reshuffle has some weird stuff in it – ChCh Earthquake spokesperson a backbencher!, 6 ex-staffers in the top 10, Mallard’s ‘demotion’ that isn’t. But there’s some smarts there too.

Let’s start with economics. There’s a big question over where Russel Norman will fit into the finance/economics team of the next government. But with Cunliffe gone and a rookie handed Economic Development, it’s clear that Labour’s adjusted itself to giving him that role. No disrespect to my fellow Standardista’s brother; David Clark’s been outstanding. But putting such a junior MP in that position when Finance is held by a former Cabinet Minister ranked number 3, is a clear sign that Labour sees itself giving the role to Norman – a rookie’s not going to get the job over a co-leader.

Leaving Transport, Maori Affairs/Treaty, Energy, Climate Change and Conservation out of the top 20 (ie shadow Cabinet) would also be a joke if it wasn’t clearly being done to give the Greens space.

In Transport, Phil Twyford had done a remarkable job given the ambiguity of his party’s positions on the individual Roads of National Significance (they only flatly oppose one of them). Brendan Horan had also been doing a good job with his Kiwirail connections. Now, the board is clear for Julie Anne Genter to make her mark and cement her case to be Transport Minister. You couldn’t not have transport in Cabinet, it spends 5% of the budget, let alone its wider economic impacts.

Likewise, you can’t not have Maori Affairs and Treaty Settlements in Cabinet. Are they planning to give Metiria Turei Maori Affairs and maybe the Children’s Minister role that both parties want, and which Annette King had been eying up but won’t be able to do if she’s busy with Housing. Just as Norman wouldn’t have his hands directly on the cheque book if he was Economic Development rather than Finance, giving Turei advisory ministries to run rather than a big-budget department like MSD would fit with Labour’s desire to control the ‘real’ decisions in coalition.

Energy and Climate Change could be given to a single Green Minister to hold, given they’re very unlikely to remain with Moana Mackey in outside Cabinet roles. Gareth Hughes and Kennedy Graham could both put their hands up, or the roles could be split between Norman and Genter.

Conservation also needs to be in Cabinet because it makes decisions on large developments and the management of vast swathes of the country. Eugenie Sage is the Greens’ Conservation spokesperson and their Earthquake Recovery spokesperson – could Labour be planning to palm off both these roles that are frequently no-win to her? Interesting strategy if so.

Finally, ACC remains in Labour’s top 20 but it has been taken off the up and coming ex-union boss, Andrew Little, who as a union lawyer knows ACC and its issues like few others – with the exception of ex-DHB boss Kevin Hague, and given to the much lower profile Sue Moroney. On the other hand, Annette King has health now. That’s a clear signal that Labour is willing to give up ACC to Hague, but not health.

The Greens may be happy with some of the spots that Labour has de facto left open for them, and not so happy about others. Economic Development is the best Norman could ever hope for from Labour but also the least he should accept. Turei would want more than just advisory ministries, she’ll want her hands on the tiller. But it is good to see that Labour is acting now with an eye to a post-election coalition. Just the fact that ‘when we’re government’ is seriously in their heads is a positive frame of mind that was completely absent in the lead up to the 2011 election.

49 comments on “Room left for Greens in Labour reshuffle”

  1. just saying 1

    Oh come on James. Optimism is a fine thing, but looking at the Labour Party reshuffle and perceiving wisdom, generosity, collegiality, or intelligence beyond the most venal cunning, borders on delusional.

    It’s time to admit defeat.

  2. Matthew Hooton 2

    I am appalled to see The Standard reduced to stealing material from the NBR!

    • wobble 2.2

      I thought it might be a matter of great minds thinking alike.

      Then I remember you’re Matthew Hooten.

      • felixviper 2.2.1

        Certainly no great mind behind that particular article. He has Metiria down for “Maori Development, Women’s Affairs, Conservation”.

        Just shows how little he know about the subject. Hope they’re not paying him much to sit at his desk (bar) and go “Hurr durr, she’s a woman and a maori….”

    • Skinny 2.3

      Matthew I actually believe a Labour/Greens coalition  will win  in a landslide victory for a number of reasons. I think we can forget the current polls results, as next year people are going to way up what’s been (or not) achieved by National. There are too many murmurs from swing voters that Key has turned out a bit light & suspect trust wise. The real telling blow will be the hundreds of thousands of Kiwi’s that didn’t vote last time ‘will’ vote if only to remove National & their coalition partners. 

      The only obvious Greens Ministerial appointment will be Julie Anna Genter to Transport. It would suit Labour to steer clear of this portfolio all things considered, and genuine concessions will need to be made for a happy partnership. 

    • David H 2.4

      Ahhh having a cry Hooton? Just because NO ONE wants to read your rubbish.

    • xtasy 2.5

      Matthes Hooton (hooter brain):

      Come on, are you now wanting to claim intellectual property rights to be honoured?

      Maybe someone had similar thoughts, ideas and interpretations as you?

      Who wants to pay for your comment column on NBR, when we get better minds write here free of charge?

      Maybe rethink your media business plan and approach.

      You come across as a “loser’ with this comment. I never bought much of your weekly commenting on National Radio on Monday mornings, I will do even less so now.

      Good luck and get a life, dear Matthew.

  3. Anne 3

    At this stage, I think you are reading more into the allocations than is actually there. Given the ruthless and self-centred attitude of the current Labour parliamentary hierarchy, I can’t see any serious signs of portfolio accomodation in their line-up. A good example… Shane Jones – a self confessed Green hater – has been promoted to the front bench.

  4. fatty 4

    Did they leave the #1 spot open to the Greens too…or do Labour seriously consider Shearer to be their leader?

  5. chris73 acualy is Dolan 5

    Basically Labours just throwing a few crumbs to placate the Greens. However this is all the Greens own making, by saying they’ll only go with Labour they’ve left themselves with no bargaining power.

    Basically the Greens are the dutiful stay at home wife that ignores the husbands (labours) philandering…

    the Greens could take lessons from Winstonfirst and P. Dunne on how to play the game (and get some influence)

    • fatty 5.1

      Can you show us how the Greens would work with National – especially in a Government from 2014-2017, when National will go for the jugular by bringing in some serious neoliberal policies (probably moving into Libertarian territory).

      Give us a run-down on how that would work

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        That may be more valuable to the nation

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 5.1.2

        They don’t have to say they’ll go with National, they can just say we’ll wait until after the election to see what we’ll do and them make Labour offer them concessions

        Essentially the Greens are the easy chick, that one that puts out, whereas Winstonfirst and P. Dunne played hard to get

        Because the Greens are easy Labour don’t have to offer them much to get them into bed but Winnie and Petie played coy and made National work for it and got rewarded

        • I think it actually helps voters decide if smaller parties mention who they plan to support for confidence and supply before the campaign. Nobody was impressed with New Zealand First’s antics in that regard.

          Remember that Labour will have to work with their partners for three years. If they feel like they’ve been slighted in coalition dealings, that’s not going to be a productive relationship. It’s in the Labour Party’s best interest to be seen as a fair dealer that is appropriately generous, but not a pushover.

          • chris73 acualy is Dolan

            Yes but Labour don’t like the Greens (one could say hate) because Labour see the Greens as poaching “their” votes

            Labour would rather not be in power but be the leader of the left than be in power but have to share with the Greens

            • Colonial Weka

              Grow up chris. Or learn some better trooling techniques. You can try and talk down the GP all you like, but they’re on a roll and will play a major part in the next election whichever way it goes.

              • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                What have I said was wrong?

                Labour party MPs have attacked the Greens in the past
                Winston and Peter Dunne both got more power with less MPs than the Greens have ever had
                Labour would rather not be in power but be the leader of the left than be in power but have to share with the Greens
                – I’ll admit thats my opinion but it seems to me that Labour have had the opportunity to give the Greens some positions but haven’t

                • Colonial Weka

                  Opinion? Sounds more like wishful thinking. Try posting something that supports your belief.

          • Colonial Weka

            Yes, and unlike NZF MPs and members, the Green Party still have a degree of integrity and the membership certainly has the expectation that the party will be clear before the election about its intentions re coalitions.

            It’s beyond belief that a party wouldn’t signal before an election which way it’s going to go afterwards. MMP was supposed to increase democracy, not create kingmakers like Peters.

        • Murray Olsen

          “Because the Greens are easy Labour don’t have to offer them much to get them into bed but Winnie and Petie played coy and made National work for it and got rewarded”

          I pity you. Obviously nobody has ever gone to bed with you because of your wit, charm, or good looks, so that you are reduced to thinking of women as essentially being prostitutes. Typical right wing bullshit when all the crap is washed off the top – you need to be rich and powerful because you would never get laid otherwise.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    You really want to go into Government with these guys Henderson? Are you a masochist?

    Just look at how they’ve treated their own former Ministers and top talent, and then think for 3 seconds how they are going to treat your team of new on the block outsiders when the chips are down.

    What does Green blood in the House look like?

    • Colonial Weka 6.1

      Are you suggesting that the GP stays outside of government? Or what?

      • Rich 6.1.1

        The best plan, if Labour (and Peters) are being dicks is for the Greens to enter into no parliament-long confidence and supply agreement, but to offer support or abstention on an initial confidence vote, whichever is needed to pass.

        Then take budget and legislation on their merits. Produce a Green shadow budget and advocate for those policies to be incorporated.

        • Colonial Viper

          That may be a strategy for gaining a long term Green majority. Being tainted by the actions of a coalition partner who isn’t really listening to you is the worst of all worlds (Lib Dems we’re looking at you)

          • Colonial Weka

            Pretty hard to see someone like Norman giving up a chance at a Ministry or three. It will be interesting to see what the membership make of the situation.

            I still expect the GP to present some new ways of doing coalition when the time comes.

        • Colonial Weka

          Rich, I tend to agree, but in the past that way of operating has been severely denounced as creating unstable government (which is why it’s never happened here). The right wing spin, and the media would play on this I’m sure, would be that the GP is holding the govt and the country to ransom. If the GP were to do that, they would need to box very clever, do lots of PR, and offer Labour as many things as they challenge.

    • Rogue Trooper 6.2

      will blend into the seats.
      Kennedy Graham
      (slippery acknowledged on the box 5 Green Ministers, just to curry favour)

  7. hush minx 7

    With a slightly more cynical tone I ask what had happened to David Shearer’s desire for a green and smart brand for nz, valuing the environment etc, when he gives it to someone, Street, who had just been demoted from health as she didn’t perform, and had no background in the area that I can tell. The only logical reason is that Labour is indeed ceding the green issues to the Greens. If only I thought that was the real reason!

  8. cricklewood 8

    Are you saying that it signals that Labour have all but given up hope of getting much above 35% of the popular vote so are preparing for a possible coalition in a couple of years?
    Meanwhile governement ministers aren’t held to account for the next couple of years as they don’t have the best person for the job opposing them due to ‘strategic thinking’
    If that has been the thinking it seems to me to be a recipe for disaster… I say you should have the best in your party doing the jobs they are best suited to, put a smuch pressure on the Govt as you can and let the chips fall where they may come election day.
    Sure there maybe some ruffled feathers during coalition negotitations over who does what pre empting that is just stupid.

  9. SpaceMonkey 9

    James, I think you’re reading too much into the reshuffle. The Shearer camp is simply strengthening its hold on the Labour Party.

    I watched Shearer on television this morning selling the reshuffle and he still sounds like he’s unsure of himself, struggles to get the words out, gets the words out and then rushes to vary what he’s said sounding like he’s just remembered the scripted line he was supposed to say first time around. It’s awful to watch and worse to listen to.

  10. felixviper 10

    They also seem to have left open posts 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, and 18.

    How generous of them.

  11. Blue 11

    Yeah, I’m sure it’s all moving over politely for the Greens and not in the slightest to do with having a shallow talent pool and factional infighting problem.

    Are they giving Chch earthquake recovery to the Greens too?

    • Socialist Paddy 11.1

      Aye. They punished Dalziel because she had the temerity (or is that good sense) to support Cunliffe.

      So they hang one of the hardest working, dedicated, intelligent MPs out to dry.

      I see no cunning strategy here to create a Labour-Green cabinet. I see the brutal hand of revenge politics being overplayed.

  12. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 12

    No spokesperson for Earthquake recovery? Is this because they don’t give a shit, or because they think the government is doing the perfect job?

  13. hush minx 13

    + 1 Blue. I suspect you may be correct. I’d imagine Lianne will continue to be supported by Cantabrians, not so sure about Labour tho.

  14. Bill 14

    Applyingthe principle of Occam’s Razor – this reshuffle simply says there is no room in Labour for Labour. Shearer et al won – Labour lost.

    Which could lead to idle speculation on whether there is room left in the Greens for Labour after this reshuffle. With Bradford and others having departed, the not altogether palatable social agenda of the Greens (yes, I liked it, but that’s not the point) is somewhat ‘open’ to a softer Labour influence.

    I’d guess Cunliffe and others who (for me) embody Labour values etc far, far better and honestly than Shearer, Robertson et al will want to ‘hang on in there’ for the inevitable collapse/renewal that follows the cycle of conservatism and crystalisation most organisation go through.

    But that takes us through to – what – 2017? That’s a long, long way away. So perhaps dumping the romantic notion of Labour and any ‘need’ to ‘fight the good fight’ in preference to getting some actual traction on policy and its implementation cuold be an option.

    It would also bring depth and experience to the Greens (something Irish has pointed out as lacking and a problem should they boost their poll rating in the short/medium term).

    The only downside I can see is that the current Labour Party would continue to get (undeserved) votes by riding the coat-tails of its history and exploiting electors misplaced romantic notions of ‘what was and should be’ rather than on ‘what is’.

  15. Fortran 15

    Looks like the old guard are still in power.
    Their is new talent available and needs urgently to be pushed into the front to see what makes them tick – there is new young skills there but appears misplaced. They need to be blooded over the next 18 months.
    The Greens are showing the way using all their talent well. After all they do not have to justify anything in there position, as they will not lead Government whatever. They can say what they like.
    Labour must be more imaginative though.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      After all they do not have to justify anything in there position, as they will not lead Government whatever. They can say what they like.

      That’s a Bullshit concept.

      Political parties are there to bring the very best ideas and proposals to voters.

      And the Greens are doing that very well.

      • Arfamo 15.1.1

        Yes they are. No sign of constant infighting there. They are very cohesive and focussing their comms and parliamentary debates on issues that count for voters.

  16. Jenny 16

    Leaving Transport, Maori Affairs/Treaty, Energy, Climate Change and Conservation out of the top 20 (ie shadow Cabinet) would also be a joke if it wasn’t clearly being done to give the Greens space.


    How do you make that out, James?

    How would giving the Greens policy positions and not portfolios give them space?

    This would be a very generous interpretation.

    Each of these policies are of interest to the Greens. And if they were portfolios the Greens would be competing for, and expecting to get at least some of them for their MPs. (Which would only be fair).

    Demoting these policies to powerless non-portfolio, while it may remove possibly acrimonious competition and argument between the Labour and the Green Party over who gets what.

    Removing these 5 key policies from the list of ministerial portfolios means that holding them will essentially be hollow and pointless.

    Obviously Labour don’t want the Green MPs to have any real power to affect change in any of these policy areas that is why these policies have been put out of cabinet where all the real decisions are made.

    Way to go Labour. Let the Green MPs compete for essentially powerless policy positions with no power to affect any outcomes. While all the real power to affect outcomes is held by Ministers with portfolio.

    Oh so subtle and clever. Let the Greens compete for all these new non-port folio positions, and tell them to be grateful. Meanwhile all the real decision making power lies with those with cabinet positions and proper Ministerial Portfolios.

    The Greens would have to be idiots or doormats to accept this.

    • Jenny 16.1

      It may also not have escaped most people’s attention that four of these five policy areas impinges on some aspect of climate change.

      At topic that the Labour Party want to ignore.

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