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Leading Labour In Dunedin - David Cunliffe Speech

Leading Labour In Dunedin David Cunliffe

Labour Party Leadership Meeting

7pm, 9 September 2013

E ngā mana, e nga reo,

E ngā karanga maha e huihui nei,

Tēnā tātou katoa.

Thanks for your warm Dunedin welcome. I acknowledge our Dunedin-based MPs David Parker, David Clark and Claire Curran.

It’s great to be back. I have such fond memories of being a scarfie here. Some are still clear, some a little fuzzy. I remember swappa crate Speights at the Robbie for $4.99 each.

I arrived on my Honda 185 farm bike – a legacy of my previous year of farm work and shearing gangs. It didn’t work so well on the hills in winter.

I had a flat in Dundas Street that was so cold that, just like in the Monty Python sketch, our canaries died frozen to their perch.

To pay my way through, I worked as a barman pulling drinks at ‘Regines’ nightclub at the Shoreline Hotel until the small hours, and managed a block of flats in working class St Clair, so I saw the real Dunedin as well as the scarfie bits.

And a shout to our visitors from the Otago Southland hinterland who have travelled so far to get here today – one of the best things about Dunedin is its region.

Rugby was a passion and I played for the Otago Golds under 20 side, reluctantly discovering that I was too short to be a good lock and too slow to be a good flanker! Good on Otago for winning the Ranfurly Shield. Happy to note that Counties disposed of the Magpies for you.

Now we need to focus on what this primary ‘shield’ is about – doing what’s best for our fellow Kiwis; what our party needs to win; then what kind of leader we need to get Labour across the line in 2014.

OUR COUNTRY

We need to think about the kind of country we want - because I’m sure it’s not the kind of country we see now.

Right now Kiwis are spending longer working, less time with our kids, earning less money, paying more for the basics and suffering more stress.

Like the taxi drivers who work 14 hours a day for $5 an hour. Or the rest home workers, caring for our elderly people under shocking conditions.

Or the cleaners in my own Service Workers Union, who clean John Key’s office for $14 an hour all hours and get beaten down every time contracts change hands.

John Key has been attacking workers’ rights for years. He thinks bosses don’t need to negotiate with workers. Now he’s taking away your lunch breaks!

As your Prime Minister I promise John Key’s attacks on workers will be gone by lunchtime!

No more firing at will. No more undermining unions. No more selling holidays.

I’ll ensure fair employment laws, starting with industry standard agreements.

I’ll raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. In the first 100 days of a Labour Government.

John Key wasted over $2 billion on tax cuts for rich people who didn’t need them.

I’ll invest in a living wage for all Kiwis – our Government will set the standard.

Every New Zealander who is ready, willing and able to work should be in a job or training for one.

Jobs don’t grow on trees. That’s why the Labour Government I lead will drive economic development in every region.

I will get Government off the side-lines and into the game; into new partnerships with communities, regions and business, creating jobs and lifting incomes.

NEW ECONOMIES, NEW PROSPERITY

In doing so, we can redefine our social democracy in this post Global Financial Crisis age.

Gone are the old lies that free markets are always efficient or fair; gone the ‘third way’ marketing gloss.

Gone the Washington Consensus that inflation-only monetary policy and balanced budgets were the sum total of economic management.

The last Labour Government never ran a fiscal deficit, and National has yet to run a surplus.

The Labour Government I lead will put the power of the state into long-term investment, and manage responsibly across the business cycle.

Gone is the failed dogma of light-handed regulation that has ruined so many Kiwi families through the leaky homes and failed finance companies.

The Labour Government I lead will take on the vested interests of markets when necessary to guarantee the wellbeing of citizens, just as I did against the old Telecom monopoly.

Our challenge must be to build a smart and high-value economy.

Only in this way will we catch up with those countries that are luring our young people away.

A SMART ECONOMY – SCIENCE AND INNOVATION

Dunedin’s future prosperity rests on two things: being a knowledge centre through world-class education and research, and building on its manufacturing core – the one National has gutted at Hillside Workshops.

We must link the two into a serious innovation cluster to guarantee its future, because John Key’s National Party is running Dunedin into the ground, for example by gutting Invermay Research Centre, which I visited today.

Like Shaun Hendy and the late Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, I believe the missing ingredient in New Zealand’s economy is investment in innovation.

In their book Get Off the Grass, they say that innovation in high-tech niches is key to increasing New Zealand’s prosperity. I agree.

That is why the Labour Government I lead will be looking to make a significant increase in investment in research and development, including high technology - and leading not lagging the renewable and clean technology revolution.

Otago must be the Oxbridge of the South. We must be a people of learning as well as a people of the land.

And we must ensure good jobs for our people by restoring our manufacturing heart.

OUR PARTY

To get a Labour Government, the Labour Party needs to win in 2014.

To do that, we need three things: urgency, unity and strategy.

Urgency

We have less than a year to lift our numbers.

John Key will spend billions in next year’s Budget to get re-elected. He is battle-ready and armed with the best spin your money can buy.

Labour has consistently under-estimated John Key. I won’t. But I’ve got his measure and he knows it.

But time is short. We must make the right call right now. We don’t have time to kick tyres.

Unity

We must be united to win. I will bring the entire party together to work as one team. Everyone must put the interests of the party and the country first.

That is our duty to New Zealanders who need us to win so they can get back on the ladder to success.

Grant and Shane are hugely talented men. I would be proud to have them on my team.


Strategy

At the last election more than 800,000 people - a fifth of the population - didn’t vote.

We failed to persuade them we were a credible alternative.

When National was telling them that they would cut them off at the knees, they don’t want to hear from us that we would too, just a little nearer the ankles and with more anaesthetic.

The Labour Party I lead will be a true red Labour Party, not a pale blue one.

To win, Labour needs urgency, unity and strategy. It needs a leader ready to win.


LEADERSHIP TO WIN

All our good intentions, all our policy, our principles and our new strategies, will be worth nothing unless we win office.

I have the experience, skills and economic credentials to lead Labour to victory in 2014 and beyond.

We need a leader grounded in the struggles of our families; but credible in business and technology, and experienced on the world stage.

I am ready to lead Labour to victory now. I am ready to win and I am asking for your support.

You have an incredibly important decision to make. The future of New Zealand is literally in your hands.

Choose wisely.

ENDS

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