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Chris Hipkins will stay on as leader of the Labour party (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty)
Chris Hipkins will stay on as leader of the Labour party (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty)

The BulletinOctober 18, 2023

Hipkins to steady ship and a Little farewell

Chris Hipkins will stay on as leader of the Labour party (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty)
Chris Hipkins will stay on as leader of the Labour party (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty)

There was no leadership vote yesterday as Labour prepares for life in opposition and Andrew Little prepares for life outside parliament, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Hipkins not done with politics

The last prime minister who took over from a high-profile and popular prime minister less than a year out from an election was Bill English. Winston Peters and NZ First supported Labour after the 2017 election, ending English’s short tenure as prime minister, and the rest is history. English was re-elected as National Party leader on 24 October 2017. At the time, he announced his intention to stay on as leader until the next general election. He stepped down on 13 February 2018 and left parliament altogether two weeks later. Chris Hipkins is staying on as Labour leader, saying, “I’m still absolutely committed to making sure that we manage a smooth transition to a new government and a smooth transition into opposition.” As per the party’s constitution, the Labour caucus will need to hold a leadership vote within three months of the election.

Other senior Labour leadership figures committing to ‘stay for now’

As Newsroom’s Jo Moir reports, Grant Robertson and Willie Jackson are only committing to staying on for now. Robertson says he wants to ensure the party is well set up to be a “high quality opposition”, and he’ll make assessments over time as to whether he’d stay on. For other long-serving MPs who aren’t returning after the election, the end comes quite swiftly. As Moir notes, there are no valedictory speeches for MPs who depart at this point. Nanaia Mahuta, who lost her Hauraki-Waikato seat to Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke after 27 years as an MP, told the Waikato Times “I will take stock and be at home with my two young children and my family. It will be nice to experience the things they are going through and be there to nurture and nourish their growth.” Mahuta called Maipi-Clarke on Saturday night to concede and encouraged her to hold onto the gains made in the electorate.

What will the sixth Labour government’s legacy be?

This morning on The Spinoff, Henry Cooke provides a comprehensive analysis of the policy gains made by the sixth Labour government and asks how much of it will still be there in 2026. He makes a comparison with the Labor government in the state of Victoria in Australia and draws a line between on-paper policy and concrete infrastructure investment. The post-mortems continue, with the Herald’s Derek Cheng (paywalled) knitting together various strands discussed over the last few days to provide a succinct narrative for Labour’s loss. A Beehive insider told the Herald: “It never is one thing. Elections are always a vibe – either time for a change, or continuity.”

Andrew Little, over and out

Andrew Little announced his retirement from parliament yesterday. For someone who has a reputation as a bit of a gruff straight-talker, he has demonstrated an extraordinary willingness to create personable social media content. He briefly changed his Twitter name to “Andrew Daddy Thicc Snacc Little” after a joke from a radio host and recently delighted TikTok and Instagram trend followers with a Wes Anderson homage for Pink Shirt Day. He signed off on social media yesterday, writing “Andrew Little MP, over and out”, accompanied by a shot that looks like it’s from another video of him encouraging people to vote. One’s political career is not the sum of one’s “snaccable” social media content, but they were light moments amid the seriousness of his work as an MP and minister. Toby Manhire presents a highlight reel of Little’s career, including his hard work across an extensive range of portfolios and an eye-popping piece of fan art. Little is planning a return to the law, taking steps to get his practising certificate back.

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