Duncan Garner: Andrew Little passes the first week test

24/11/2014

It’s so important to start a new job well and to start strongly – and new Labour Leader Andrew Little has certainly done that. He’s only been in the job a week – but I can’t really see where he has put a foot wrong.

He said all the right things about Iain Rennie’s poor management of the Roger Sutton case.

Little breathed and contemplated life as Labour’s new leader before saying anything stupid. He looks entirely competent, normal and suited to the role. In short – this guy is no fake and he won’t say anything he doesn’t truly mean. He’s not attracting attention for the wrong reasons.

So what to make of his reshuffle today? It’s mostly pretty good. He has smartly surrounded himself by the faction he beat - Annette King at 2 and Grant Robertson at 3. It’s a smart move by Little – it locks them into the change instead of bitterness and scheming.

Annette King is as competent as they get – she knows where the bodies are buried and is holding fort as Little’s deputy. She will hold his hand for the first year – that’s what I make of her role. She will stand aside in a year once Little is feeling more comfortable.

But King – despite all her strengths, is not the future; Jacinda Ardern looks like she might be promoted into this role in time.

Grant Robertson will have his work cut out to beat Bill English in Finance, but he needs to be tested and this will be a challenge for Robertson.

Nanaia Mahuta is ranked at 4 – which looks high given her output – but she gets the spot courtesy of Labour’s Maori MPs picking up six of the seven Maori seats – and she had to go somewhere. I don’t consider she has this spot on merit – it’s about being the lead Maori in the caucus.

Phil Twyford deserves his spot at 5 – he has done well in housing.

Promoting Carmel Sepuloni, Kelvin Davis and David Clark onto the front bench is good – it’s about time to test this fresh talent.

Demoting Trevor Mallard, Clayton Cosgrove, Ruth Dyson and Phil Goff is a real message. It’s time for them to seriously think about their exits.

So far so good for Little. John Key will have a little fight on his hands in 2017.

Naturally, voters will tire of Key and Little might be the man in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t need to set the world on fire. He just needs to be competent, assured and authentic – on all three counts so far – he’s passed the test.

Duncan Garner hosts RadioLIVE Drive - 'where content is king' - weekdays from 3pm

source: data archive