Shearer urges disgruntled MPs to move on

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Last updated 05:00 22/11/2012

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Supporters of demoted Labour MP David Cunliffe were last night meeting to decide whether to lodge a complaint over his treatment, amid calls from leader David Shearer to "move on".

"We have had our discussion in caucus. As far as I am concerned that is ruled off," he said during a visit to a low-cost housing development in the Wellington suburb of Newtown to promote his new housing policy.

A spokesman for Mr Cunliffe's New Lynn electorate committee, Greg Presland, said there were deep concerns about what had happened and the committee would meet to decide if a complaint would go ahead.

But he would not reveal the venue for the meeting.

"Getting on with matters and leaving it all behind is fine but there is something deeply disturbing at what has happened," he said in a blog post.

"I do think that David Cunliffe has been dealt with unfairly. My head hurts trying to understand how an MP refusing to say how they are going to vote should be considered as evidence of a coup."

MPs should consult their local committees before voting, and there was nothing wrong with that vote being kept secret.

"Indeed, it would seem proper to do so."

But former party secretary Mike Smith said the grounds for a complaint - which seemed to centre on how other MPs had spoken disparagingly about Mr Cunliffe - did not seem solid.

"I'm not sure they have a toe to stand on, let alone a foot."

Mr Shearer said it was the committee's right to complain, and if it did it would be considered by the party's ruling council.

He yesterday defended his decision to muzzle his MPs from commenting on leadership issues.

"We want to talk about what is important, not our own internal squabbles. On this particular issue we will rule off, move on."

Finance spokesman David Parker would temporarily take over the economic development role, assisted by Clayton Cosgrove, pending a wider reshuffle.

Mr Shearer said his own major strength was being able to bring a team together to win the next election.

"Unfortunately there has been a lot of undermining of that leadership. We want to put that to bed. I have said that and made that very clear."

Labour's housing policy would see 100,000 homes built over 10 years at an average cost of $300,000 to $350,000. They would be sold to first-time buyers and penalties would apply if they were resold early.

However, at the Newtown development Mr Shearer saw first-hand how expensive even entry level housing can be. The four four-bedroom homes he visited were each valued at $495,000.

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- The Dominion Post

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