Report from Scoop Team
Labour Leader David Shearer has been backed by his caucus and David Cunliffe has been stripped of his economic development portfolio and sent to the back benches.
Shearer emerged from a caucus meeting that lasted more than an hour at Parliament today to announce his MPs had unanimously endorsed his leadership. The vote had been put to end the speculation over his leadership.
“I enjoy the confidence of my caucus now and into the future,’’ Shearer said.
The rules changes made by the Labour Party over leadership votes were welcomed by him and would be implemented.
“We are energised and in good heart.’’
He described Cunliffe’s actions as destructive, disappointing and undermining. “I no longer have confidence in David Cunliffe,’’ Shearer said.
The economic development portfolio had been given to Cunliffe, after Shearer beat him in an election race, as asign that he wanted to work with him; however his rival had shown himself not to be a team player. As a result Cunliffe would be demoted and sent to the back benches until he could show he was willing to work as part of the Labour team under Shearer’s leadership.
“This is about taking us forward,” Shearer said. “It was necessary for this to happen”.
Statement in full from David Shearer
“I called MPs together because I want any speculation or doubt about my leadership to be put to rest. That has now happened. I enjoy the confidence of my caucus today and going forward.
“Labour is a team. We’re here for New Zealanders and that’s bigger than the ambitions of any single individual. Any impression of division distracts us from that task. We must work together in the interests of New Zealand.
“This weekend, I laid out a bold plan to take New Zealand in a new direction, to reignite our stalled economy and to deliver a fair go to all New Zealanders. Our new KiwiBuild scheme will put 100,000 families into their first home. It’s an ambitious plan, but one that I’m determined to see implemented.
“To do that, I need a caucus that is fully behind me. Sadly, David Cunliffe has not been able to show that loyalty. His actions at the weekend were disappointing, not only to me but to many Party members. That, along with his repeated failure to quell speculation about the leadership, means that I no longer have confidence in him. He has lost my trust. That is why I have taken the decision today to demote David Cunliffe from the front bench to the unranked section of the caucus. I have also removed his Economic Development and Associate Finance portfolios from him. I will announce replacement spokespeople in the next few days.
“After the leadership contest last year, I publicly expressed my support for David Cunliffe and appointed him to the front bench as a sign of my respect for him and desire for us to work together. I regret having to take the action I have today, but he has left me with no alternative.
“David Cunliffe is a talented MP and it is possible there is a road back for him. But I would like him to take the time to reflect on his ability to play a part in our team. I have also left the rest of my caucus in no doubt that we need to pull together.
“Today is about moving forward and putting division behind us. In order to change people’s lives we need a change of government. That’s the change I’m focused on.
“New Zealanders quite rightly expect that we will focus on their ambitions, not our own. And on the issues that matter most to them – jobs, housing and education. That’s what my team will do.”
Statement from NZ Labour Party – November 19
Labour Leader David Shearer has called his caucus to a meeting in Wellington at 4pm tomorrow. “I will be seeking the endorsement of my colleagues for the Labour leadership.
“The endorsement I’m seeking will be in line with the decision made by Labour Party members at this weekend’s conference that I must have at least 60% support of the caucus.
“A formal endorsement vote will also still be held in February in accordance with the new rules approved by Party members.
“I’m holding this vote tomorrow to demonstrate that I have the support of my caucus and to put recent speculation to bed.
“It is important that these matters are resolved so that Labour can lift its sights to focus on the serious challenges facing the country, including jobs, education and housing affordability,” said David Shearer.