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Tragic Nats' Sorry Shuffle

Labour Cabinet Minister Pete Hodgson said today that the National Party's reshuffle highlighted the paucity of talent on the opposition bench while leaving its biggest problem, its leadership, untouched.

"The big mover in National's ranks is Gerry Brownlee," Mr Hodgson said. "Mr Brownlee's notable achievement of the last 12 months was his ineffective marshalling of trivial opposition to this government's ACC reforms.

"This reshuffle will do little to shake the image of an opposition deeply lost in its own torpor. Especially given that in prematurely taking key portfolios from Wyatt Creech, the opposition is removing its hardest worker from the frontline. It is a loss that National can ill afford.

"All in all, the changes announced today contain little more than a hint of desperation. National's pitiful performance in opposition is matching its dire record in government.

"National is still grieving its 1999 election loss, but has yet to address the real reason for its defeat – the rejection by the electorate of its hard-right policies. Tinkering with the personnel is simply a diversion while the hard work of a complete policy rethink goes undone.

"Shifting portfolios around among proven low performers won't change anything. It only serves to highlight National's lack of talent. Meanwhile, its worst performer and biggest problem, Jenny Shipley, remains in charge. God help them."

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