Tensions rise in David Shearer's office

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 14:38 26/04/2012
ALASTAIR CAMERON
ALASTAIR CAMERON: Appointed chief of staff for Labour leader David Shearer.

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Tensions in the Labour leader's office appear to have escalated after outgoing chief of staff Stuart Nash was told to take two weeks leave while his replacement settled in.

Nash was seen leaving the building this morning and is understood to have been asked to take leave by members of leader David Shearer's senior team.

His abrupt departure co-incides with the arrival of his replacement, Alastair Cameron, who is set to take up the position on May 1 - nearly a month before Nash's resignation was supposed to take effect.

Cameron was the board chair of the Aids Foundation and is to stand down from that role effective immediately.

As Fairfax Media reported earlier this month, Nash quit after a just a few months heading Shearer's office, citing mainly personal reasons.

He had a child earlier this year, and he was finding commuting between Wellington and Napier difficult. He also intended to run for Labour again in the Napier seat.

But insiders have revealed tensions in Labour leader David Shearer's office over strategy and Shearer's low profile.

Chief press secretary Fran Mold pushed for a higher profile for Shearer on more issues, while Nash favoured a more presidential approach for the leader, with a greater emphasis on positive messages and comment on a more limited range of issues.

Cameron, a Wellington-based lawyer, had been the clear front runner for the Shearer job.

He is seen as having close links with Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson, sparking suggestions the appointment of Robertson loyalists in senior positions was leaving the deputy well-placed for a future tilt at the leadership.

When approached last week Robertson rubbished the leadership speculation and said he had no interest in the job.

The appointments seen as "Robertson-friendly" include his former Wellington Central campaign manager Patrick Leyland, who accompanied Shearer to Nelson last week and filmed the Labour leader's second "vision" speech. There are also suggestions Jordan Carter is poised to replace Chris Flatt as party secretary.

The Aids Foundation said Cameron's term on its trust board had been due to end in October.

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