Hipkins drops in Labour reshuffle

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 11:17 06/05/2014

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has reshuffled his front bench, moving Chris Hipkins down a notch and promoting housing spokesman Phil Twyford.

Hipkins slips from eight to nine, but Cunliffe said that was not a reflection on his ability and meant he was still part of the party's frontbench line up, which it counts as the top-10 ranked MPs.

Hipkins, the Rimutaka MP, also picks up the forestry role to go with his responsibility for education.

Twyford moves to six and Nanaia Mahuta moves from nine to eight, to bring a Maori back on to the front row after the resignation of Shane Jones.

Cunliffe said the top 10 would now meet as a group replacing the former caucus strategy committee, which was the top five.

MP Maryan Street also slipped down the rankings from 12 to 16 but picks up tertiary education.

Trevor Mallard, who was demoted by Cunliffe in the previous reshuffle, is rehabilitated to the second row with a ranking of 15 and takes up the immigration and associate economic development roles.

"This reflects the confidence I have in him," Cunliffe said.

Third-ranked Grant Robertson will take over the economic development role vacated by Jones to go with his jobs portfolio.

Other movers are Jacinda Ardern, up one to five, Andrew Little who rises to 11, and returning MP Kelvin Davis who comes in at 22 with four associate roles.

The reshuffle was been prompted by the resignation of Jones, who was poached to be a Pacific economic development ambassador by Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Jones valedictory speech is set down for May 21.

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