Cunliffe not so supportive after all

Last updated 05:00 16/12/2011

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An embittered David Cunliffe is refusing to rule out quitting Parliament altogether as leader David Shearer moves to finalise his front bench.

It is understood Mr Cunliffe has been offered a front bench seat and a senior portfolio but has balked at his proposed ranking.

A spokeswoman confirmed the two had talked on the phone and it is understood Mr Shearer, who plans to announce his team early next week, was late yesterday still waiting for a response.

Mr Cunliffe pledged his unconditional support to Mr Shearer after Tuesday's leadership vote.

But yesterday he said he was "weighing up all my options" and would not say when he was likely to make his call.

"I have not made any decision yet."

Labour has been allocated eight front bench seats in the new Parliament and it is likely Mr Cunliffe has been offered either the sixth, seventh or eighth slot.

The top places are likely to be taken by Mr Shearer, deputy Grant Robertson, Jacinda Ardern, finance spokesman David Parker, Shane Jones and Clayton Cosgrove with the remaining two slots open to Mr Cunliffe and his running mate, Nanaia Mahuta, or possibly Ruth Dyson or Maryan Street.

Mr Shearer may also give a prominent role to Su'a William Sio in recognition of his solid performance, his strong backing in Mangere and the importance of the Pasifika vote to Labour.

Meanwhile, former list MP Stuart Nash, who is close to Mr Shearer, has been offered the role of chief of staff.

He said he wanted to discuss it with his partner first, and would give Mr Shearer his answer by Sunday.

"It's a really exciting opportunity, because I believe David Shearer can take us to victory in 2014."

He said Labour had shed "most vestiges" of the Helen Clark government.

Money was limited so Labour would have to take the fight to National "on the smell of an oily rag".

He had told Mr Shearer he still had political aspirations and the passion for politics, after missing out on the Napier seat in the general election.

He cut MP Chris Tremain's majority to 3701, but was ranked too low to come in on Labour's list; a result that attracted criticism of Labour's list.

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- The Dominion Post

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