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David Cunliffe to retire from politics

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Former Labour leader David Cunliffe is retiring from politics.</span> © Associated Press Former Labour leader David Cunliffe is retiring from politics. Former Labour leader David Cunliffe will retire from politics to take up a private consulting job ahead of next year's general election.

Party leader Andrew Little made the announcement on Tuesday but Mr Cunliffe, who was demoted from the front bench last year, says he was not forced out.

"This was entirely my initiative. I've spoken with Andrew Little about it over the last week or two and we've had some good discussions but this is entirely my decision," he said.

"He gave me the opportunity to reconsider and stay longer."

Mr Cunliffe said he hadn't seriously considered ending his 17-year political career until he was approached for the management consulting position with Auckland-based Stakeholder Strategies and decided to announce his decision now as next month's nomination deadline for his seat approaches.

The New Lynn MP, who has served in New Zealand's parliament since 1999, intends to remain until next year to avoid triggering a by-election and believes Labour will retain the seat after his departure.

Asked about regrets, Mr Cunliffe said they came and went over his career but the biggest was that Labour was not currently in government.

But Mr Little said he wouldn't look back to the negatives of Mr Cunliffe's career and said he had been "enormously supportive" of him since he took over as leader.

"He is a strong Labour supporter regardless of what he does and he will be somebody who we'll continue to draw on for a long time to come," he said.

He said the departure would leave a gap in Labour's intellectual firepower but a replacement would be found.

Prime Minster John Key said the decision was predictable because Mr Cunliffe was a "talented guy" who was not waned by the leadership.

But Police and Corrections Minister Judith Collins described him as "pretty close" to a moron.

"I'm trying to think of something nice to say. He really was helpful in the 2014 election campaign for us," she said.

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