Alastair Cameron to be the Labour Chief of Staff?

by Jake Quinn

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Labour CoS Alastair Cameron

As you may have heard the NZ Leader of the Opposition’s Office Chief of Staff, former MP Stuart Nash, recently hung up his boots after just a few months in the job.

Today iPredict launched stocks on who would replace him. The candidates according to iPredict were Alastair CameronMarcus GanleyJon JohanssonConor RobertsJames Bews-HairJohn PaganiJohn Tamihere, and Gordon Jon Thompson.

Alastair Cameron shot to an early lead, indicating insider knowledge of his advantage. Alastair was a Ministerial Adviser to Hon Marian Hobbs from 2002-2005, a Fulbright scholar to Columbia University, and a previous chair of a few Wellington based Labour Electorate Committees (LEC’s), my sources tell me. He is also, I presume, Deputy Leader Grant Robertson’s choice candidate, as they are good friends. I personally haven’t met Alastair but it sounds as though he’d do a fine job.

When I first heard of Nash’s resignation my first thought was that Marcus Ganley was probably the right man for the job. I worked with Marcus briefly in Dr Cullen’s office in 2008, where he was Senior Advisor, where he basically ran the office. Ganley is probably NZ Labour’s most experienced political staffer still living in Australasia (he is currently Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong’s Senior Advisor).  Although, I can imagine trading that job in for one in NZ wouldn’t be top of his priority list (plus his GF works in Julia Gillard’s office).

Of the other candidates I did have to laugh when I saw Jon Johansson’s name. Jon is a well known NZ political commentator and academic from Victoria University (he was my honour’s thesis supervisor). I can’t imagine he would consider the job for a moment. A) He’s not a Labour activist and probably only ever voted them on occasion, if ever. B) He’s an academic, and a fine one at that – why would he trade that nice lifestyle and a job in a reputable politics department for an 80 hour a week thankless job in opposition, when it probably wouldn’t even come with a pay rise?!

Meanwhile, Conor Roberts is probably enjoying himself far too much in his role as Chief Political Advisor to the Lord Mayor of Auckland to bother with a move to windy old Wellington. Gordon Jon Thompson has been there, done that, got the t-shirt (in the Goffice) and I’m sure would prefer to stay put in his shiny new role heading up Research at UMR. And John Tamihere? Please, pull the other one.

Finally, one name not mentioned on the list that probably should be is Sarah Clark, former head of the Labour Research Unit under the Clark years. It wouldn’t be foolish to be considering a woman for the role.

Good luck to all. It’s a mightly important job and the person who gets it is odds-on to be the next Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

Update: The Standard reports that Alastair has been confirmed as the new Chief of Staff.

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