Editorial: Shearer reveals Labour' s A team

23:00, Feb 25 2013

For political geeks, the day of a front bench reshuffle is one of excitment.

That's because everything is laid bare.

We are used to politicians giving out ambiguous or "nothing" answers about people and policies, that they are "relaxed" about a plan or "comfortable" with a decision.

But when it comes to a reshuffle there is no room for misinterpretation. You're one of three things: up, down or in the same spot.

David Shearer and Labour yesterday unveiled the lineup he thinks can be part of an election win at the end of next year. There may be some tinkering further down the track, but by and large this is the team he wants to help him become our next Prime Minister.

And it's all about matchups. If you cast your eye over the new lineup, experienced former Minister Annette King takes on health and will square off against the solid Tony Ryall. Former leader Phil Goff picks up defence (off Palmerston North's Iain Lees-Galloway) and will go up against Jonathan Coleman. Lees-Galloway picks up a meaty portfolio with transport and will be butting heads with Gerry Brownlee.


Somewhat surprisingly, Shearer saw no spot for Trevor Mallard in his new look front bench, with the veteran MP knocked off the top rung.

Other winners were Shane Jones, back in from the cold, and the little-known David Clark (just to add to the David confusion). Shearer clearly had no time for the "other" David, Cunliffe. His talent and experience were outweighed by the fact that Shearer can't trust the ambitious MP - yet.

For now, though, this is Shearer's best lineup. His actions have to resonate more with voters than they have in the past year. To be in contention for the general election, his front bench have to notch up some big hits against National's experienced-looking lineup.

It's not quite his last chance to get his A team together, but time will soon start to creep up on Shearer, with next year set to be all about the election campaign.

There may be a couple of tweaks to the team between now and then, but for the most part, this is it.


The success of Marina Erakovic in winning her first WTA tennis title cannot be under-estimated. The Croatian-born Kiwi has toiled away on the professional circuit for a number of years now and has had some good wins, but not a lot of success or silverware to speak of. With the huge numbers of people playing tennis worldwide and the margins for error so slim, her win at the Memphis tournament is a huge achievement.

Manawatu Standard