Cunliffe confirms Parker’s economic approach, refreshes shadow Cabinet

Labour plans no change to key economic planks, including a capital gains tax, the single buyer electricity policy, affordable home-building policy, and a broader mandate for monetary policy than inflation control, Labour’s newly appointed leader, David Cunliffe, confirms.

Speaking to BusinessDesk after a press conference where he unveiled a new shadow Cabinet line-up, Cunliffe confirmed his deputy, David Parker’s key policy initiatives would remain in place and, in some places, be extended.

“They are all intact although I think it’s probably fair to say you may see more work from David Parker in the monetary policy area, quite possibly,” Cunliffe said. “Capital gains tax is intact. We may do some fine-tuning. The KiwiBuild policy is great. There may be some other changes in that portfolio as well.”

He confirmed the New Zealand Power single electricity buyer policy was also “intact.”

Cunliffe has cut the Labour shadow Cabinet from 22 to 20 and retained known supporters of other candidates in the recent leadership vote to senior positions.

MP’s identified as part of the ABC, or Anyone But Cunliffe, group are among senior appointments, including former leader Phil Goff at 15th with the defence, trade, ethnic and veterans’ affairs portfolios, Annette King at fourth with the health portfolio, Clayton Cosgrove at 7th in the state-owned enterprises, commerce and earthquake recovery portfolios, and Chris Hipkins takes education and 8th ranking.

“I think it’s been renamed All Behind Cunliffe,” quipped the new leader in answer to journalists’ questions about their inclusion, but he would not discuss the decision to demote energetic communications and broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran, who tweeted against Cunliffe during the campaign.

Cunliffe has taken the information and communications technology portfolio for himself, possibly reasoning his experience in the portfolio in the Helen Clark Cabinet will allow him to lead the attack on the government’s troubled ultra-fast broadband policies. Curran retains an associate interest in the portfolio and gains responsibilities for open government and civil defence.

Former leader David Shearer gains Foreign Affairs and the energy portfolio, and is ranked 13th.

As expected, the new deputy leader David Parker keeps finance, while the third-running candidate in the leadership vote, Shane Jones, takes Economic Development and Maori Development, but Cunliffe keeps an oar in economic policy-making by taking the regional development portfolio.

Ruth Dyson keeps conservation, but is not in the shadow Cabinet, while new MP Meka Whaitiri takes the reconstituted water portfolio, suggesting both that Cunliffe would welcome Dyson’s retirement from Parliament and that both portfolios might go to Green Party MP’s in a Labour-Greens coalition.

In other notable changes, former party president and supporter of Grant Robertson for the leadership, Maryan Street, has lost to the environment portfolio to Moana Mackey, who previously held the energy portfolio. Street takes State Services and is ranked 12th.

Jacinda Ardern, ranked sixth, loses social development to Sue Moroney, who also becomes senior whip.

Robertson, the caucus’s preferred choice for leader, is ranked third, with employment, skills and training giving him a hand in economic policy development.

Cunliffe said the government had the economy “stuck in first gear where average New Zealanders are missing out, there’s far too much unemployment.

“That’s speeding up a widening gap of inequality that I think most New Zealanders find distasteful and wrong. We are losing our sense of ourselves as a country.”

Environmental protection would also be a target for opposing the current administration.

“There’s a lot of work to be done. This place is on the slide,” said Cunliffe. New Zealanders want a fresh start and they’re going to get it from this team.”


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