Shearer defends Labour muzzle

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Last updated 13:43 21/11/2012
David Shearer
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
Labour leader David Shearer after last night's press conference announcing MP David Cunliffe's demotion.

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Labour leader David Shearer has defended his decision to muzzle his MPs from commenting on leadership issues, saying it was time move on.

''We have had our discussion in caucus. As far as I am concerned that is ruled off,'' he said during a visit to a low-cost housing development in the Wellington suburb of Newtown to promote his party's new housing policy.

He said his rival David Cunliffe, who he demoted to the back benches, was not talking to the media and he wanted the focus on issue such as housing and jobs.

''We want to talk about what is important, not our own internal squabbles. On this particular issue we will rule off, move on.''

Finance spokesman David Parker would temporarily take over the economic development role, assisted by Clayton Cosgrove, pending a wider reshuffle. Shearer said his major strength was being able to bring a team together to win the next election.

''Unfortunately there has been a lot of undermining of that leadership. We want to put that to bed. I have said that and made that very clear yesterday.''

He said Cunliffe's electoral committee complaint, aimed at comments against Mr Cunliffe by other Labour MPs, would go to the party's ruling council.

Labour's housing policy, which was the main focus of Shearer's keynote address to the party conference last weekend, would see 100,000 homes built over 10 years at an average cost of $300,000 to $350,000 and then on sold to first-time buyers.

In the Newtown development owned by the Wellington Housing Trust, the four 4-bedroom homes are valued at $495,000.

Tenants pay between 35 per cent and 70 per cent of the estimated $650 market rent, trust spokeswoman Alison Cadman said. Higher rents on some units were used to help cross-subsidise other tenants across the charitable trust's 26 homes.

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- The Dominion Post

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