4 Feb 2013

Labour caucus endorses Shearer

9:43 pm on 4 February 2013

David Shearer's leadership of the Labour Party has been endorsed for the second time in less than three months and he says it puts his hold on the job beyond question.

Labour MPs passed a vote of confidence in Mr Shearer at their caucus meeting in West Auckland on Monday morning.

Afterwards, he said the vote puts speculation about his leadership to rest.

Under the party's constitution, a confidence vote in the leader has to be held in February.

Mr Shearer needed 60% plus one MP to vote for him to avoid a leadership challenge that would have included voting by party members and affiliated unions.

He says it is now time for Labour to focus on the policies that are important to people and prove it is a government-in-waiting.

The party will not release the actual result of the vote.

Mr Shearer put his leadership to the test two months ago and said earlier he was not worried about Monday's vote.

David Cunliffe, the New Lynn MP touted as his most likely challenger, had already said publicly he would vote for Mr Shearer.

On Monday he said he was happy Mr Shearer had been endorsed as the party's leader.

"I think we're all happy with it and we want to move forward and take the fight to National. David Shearer has the complete support of the caucus and my vote."

Most MPs confirmed that they would support Mr Shearer as they went into the meeting but some refused to comment, saying the vote would be a secret ballot.

Mr Shearer will announce a reshuffle of Labour's frontbench soon but refused to say when, or whether Mr Cunliffe will be promoted in the reshuffle.

Mr Cunliffe, the party's economic development spokesperson, was demoted to the backbench in November.

Goff welcomes vote

The former party leader, Phil Goff, has welcomed the endorsement of his successor.

Mr Goff says Mr Shearer was clearly endorsed.

"I think David Shearer's been performing really well. I think that he's got the makings of a great New Zealand Labour prime minister and we've got to get behind him and support him. He'll be out leading from the front."

He says it is now up to Labour MPs to support Mr Shearer and show unity in the lead-up to next year's election.