Shearer to quit for UN job

Audrey Young reports:

Labour MP David Shearer is poised to resign from Parliament to take up the tough job of leading the United Nations’ mission in war-torn South Sudan.

The latest political bombshell will mean a byelection in his Mt Albert electorate early next year, the first electoral challenge for the new Prime Minister.

A recommendation for his appointment has been put before the UN Security Council in New York by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

Once approved this week, Shearer will work alongside the commander of 18,000 peace-keepers, with a budget of about $1 billion.

Any of the Security Council’s 15 members has two days to object, but given Shearer’s previous experience as a senior UN leader in trouble-spots, he is likely to be accepted.

Congrats to David Shearer – he’ll be great in the role.

It has been known for many months that Shearer wanted to exit Parliament, and who could blame him for not wanting to stay in the Labour caucus.

What is interesting is that a very reliable source (from Labour) told me that Shearer was up for an even more prominent UN role in the middle of the year – head of all UN operations in Syria. He had the full backing of the Government for the job. But he got effectively vetoed. Who by? His predecessor at the MP for Mt Albert who thought another NZer getting a top UN job would interfere with her bid for UN Secretary General.

The appointment is a personal one by the UN Secretary-General. It is not one that required a nomination by the Government.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Shearer, who is Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, had the strong support of the Government.

“It is a huge deal,” he said.

“[Security Council members have] a couple of days to raise any concerns, so it is not a done deal yet.

“But it is a big feather in his cap.

“This is the toughest peace-keeping assignment on the planet. It is a difficult and dangerous place.”

The three-year civil war in South Sudan has forced more than two million people to flee their homes.

I didn’t realise who big the civil war was there.

Good to see the Government continue the tradition of supporting New Zealanders for top roles, regardless of their political party.

A byelection in Mt Albert will be the second for Labour to defend, following last weekend’s success in keeping Mt Roskill. Shearer won Mt Albert in 2014 with a 10,656 majority.

But like Mt Roskill, National polled higher than Labour in the party vote, by 3536 votes.

There could be a lot of people interested in the Mt Albert candidacy, including existing List MPs.

The party vote figure is a bit misleading as the Greens get a lot of party vote there also. Combined they got 18,000 votes to 14,300 for National.


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