Claire Trevett in the NZ Herald reports:
Sue Moroney has been awarded the front bench slot left empty by the resignation of Darren Hughes and has taken on his education portfolio.
Labour leader Phil Goff announced the mini-shuffle this morning, giving Sue Moroney responsibility for the primary and secondary schooling areas as well as the early childhood portofilio she already held.
That’s a big promotion for Moroney. She’s been fairly low profile since she entered in 2005, so this is her oportunity to make her name. She’s only 46, so if she does well, could be a front bench Minister in a future Labour Government.
Old hand Rick Barker was elected uncontested by caucus to the position of senior whip, a nod to his experience in the role and the desire for stability in the eight months before the election. He was previously a senior Government whip. He will stand down from his role as assistant Speaker to fulfil the whip’s role.
This is quite significant. Barker is turning 60 this year and has been an MP for 18 years. I would have judged him at risk of not having a winnable list place. But now he is their chief whip, they have to give him a winnable spot on the list. So it means one less spot for new candidates.
Barker is a former senior whip, so will beable to do the role easily. But not the best sign for Labour that they had to appoint an MP whom many considered was due to retire, as he lost his Tukituki seat in 2005.
Mr Goff said he would nominate Ross Robertson to take on the Speaker position in his lieu.
Which Ross is very good at. When Labour nominated Barker for the role, instead of Robertson, in late 2008 it was taken as a hint that he should retire. But he is also again standing in 2011, which again makes rejuvenation that much harder. Robertson is 62 and been an MP for 24 years.