Cunliffe seeks chief of staff

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014

Relevant offers

Politics

Campaign 2014 is littered with landmines A long week in politics John Key: 'Ask me anything' Mark could get NZ First across line Greens wary of foreign-owned 'wall of wood' PM offers phone records PPTA reaches interim agreement Today in politics: Saturday, August 23 Conservatives goes to court over airtime More cash dished out for MPs' housing expenses

Labour leader David Cunliffe is looking for a new top adviser after ill-health saw his current chief of staff quit after just four months in the job.

Lawyer Wendy Brandon, who was previously the general counsel at Auckland Council and deputy chairwoman of state-owned communications company Kordia, was a surprise appointment last October after Mr Cunliffe won the run-off to replace David Shearer as leader.

Despite her lack of parliamentary experience, she had not been ‘‘moved on’’ and there was no dissatisfaction with her performance, Labour sources said.

She was diagnosed with shingles late last year and had been on leave since then. She resigned after advice her hearing and sight could be at risk if she continued in such a high-stress job.

However, sources said she had been unhappy at the end of 2013, though at the time she denied any plans to step down when approached by Fairfax Media.

Those who worked closely with her said she was frustrated by managing the competing agendas of the caucus and the party, which in November saw uneasy compromises hammered out at the party’s annual conference over the state pension age and free trade talks.

However, it was her illness that finally tipped the balance.

Problems after Cunliffe’s ‘‘state of the nation’’ speech crystallised the urgent need to have someone actively filling the crucial chief of staff role in election year.

In the speech Cunliffe claimed all households earning under $150,000 a year would get a $60 a week baby bonus for the first year of their baby’s life, when in fact only about half would qualify because they would not get the payment while receiving paid parental leave.

Labour said Karl Beckett was acting chief of staff and the party was seeking a replacement for the job that has been a revolving door since 2012 with five filling the role during two leadership spills: Gordon Jon Thompson, former MP Stuart Nash, Alastair Cameron, former chief press secretary Fran Mold and  Brandon.

It is understood Labour is interviewing two prospective replacements.


Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Is it time for Judith Collins to go?

Yes

No

Undecided

Vote Result

Related story: Judith Collins looking isolated

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content