Trust-dumping 'slip-up' further insult to Cunliffe

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012

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David Cunliffe was unceremoniously stripped of his portfolios - and he faced further ignominy last week when the Labour Party replaced him on a parliamentary trust.

In an incident described by a witness as "humiliating", Mr Cunliffe arrived at a meeting of the Business and Parliament Trust on Wednesday to find fellow MP David Parker in his place.

A staffer from the office of leader David Shearer decided to replace the New Lynn MP after his front-bench demotion - but no-one thought to tell Mr Cunliffe.

He refused to comment yesterday, saying he was bound by a agreement that only Mr Shearer would talk on caucus matters.

But after calls from Fairfax yesterday, Mr Shearer reinstated him - insisting it was just a slip-up that he was unaware of until afterwards.

"The confusion arose when the trust queried if Mr Cunliffe would continue in his role as a trustee," Mr Shearer said.

"There was an incorrect assumption in my office the position was linked to the economic development portfolio and the invitation to attend last week's meeting was passed on to David Parker."

He confirmed Mr Cunliffe was not advised and said it was "an unfortunate oversight". Mr Cunliffe is believed to have arrived a few minutes' late at the meeting and was visibly shocked to find Mr Parker there.

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