Leading Labour in Christchurch
Leading Labour in Christchurch
Labour Party Leadership Meeting 7.30pm, 10 September 2013
E ngā mana, e nga reo,
E ngā karanga maha e huihui nei,
Tēnā tātou katoa.
Thanks for your warm Christchurch welcome. I acknowledge our Christchurch-based MPs Ruth Dyson, Megan Woods, Clayton Cosgrove. And our other MPs Rajen Prasad, Sue Moroney and Nanaia Mahuta. Phil Twyford. (Acknowledgements).
Welcome to our visitors from Mid and South Canterbury - a place dear to my heart. And I’d like to acknowledge my Mum who has travelled up from Timaru today to hear her boy.
To me, growing up in Pleasant Point, Christchurch was always the “big smoke”. It broke my heart to see it broken and battered in two horrific earthquakes, and aftershocks.
Remember how John Key stared down the TV tube and said that ‘nobody will be disadvantaged by the ‘quakes. As they say on the Tui ads: “yeah right”.
Three years from the first earthquake on 4 September, things are just getting too hard for so many Canterbury people. People are just not coping.
The Christchurch Press summed it up on Saturday when they talked about the four tribes of Christchurch: the Angry, the Disillusioned, the Untouched, and the Hopeful.
This fracturing is divisive. At a time when Christchurch needs to be coming together it is coming apart.
That is part of why I am so pleased that Lianne Dalziel is running for Mayor on a ticket of “One City Together”.
And that is why I want to be the Labour Prime Minister that hands back control of Christchurch to the people of this City.
Good politics gets alongside New Zealanders in their daily lives and helps to bring out the best from wherever they are. I call it “politics with, not for”.
In Christchurch that means shifting from asking “what we can do for Christchurch”, to asking “what we can do together”. It means asking how Christchurch wants us to work with them.
For a start, we need to sort the mess that National has already imposed on this city.
The idea that CERA can be run by a CEO who reports direct to a Minister in Wellington without a proper governance layer in between, means that John Key and Gerry Brownlee have politicised the recovery of Christchurch.
It’s a mess. This is not some radical left wing document – this is the Auditor General showing that the institutional arrangements set up by John Key’s Government are a complete mess. (Fig.1 of OAG baseline report on Roles Responsibilities and Funding of Public Entities after the Canterbury Earthquakes).
There is no-one in charge and there is no overarching strategy. That is why Gerry Brownlee does not know that there is a housing crisis in this city.
Because rents are so high people are being forced to live in situations that most Kiwis would never accept – things I have seen first-hand in my own electorate – of multiple families crowded into undersized homes, or living in garages or caravans.
John Key’s fond of saying he grew up in a state house in Christchurch. But as Prime Minister he scrapped the state house build in his electorate at Hobsonville. He pulled the ladder up.
I won’t pull the ladder up. I will ensure that there is a warm, dry home in Christchurch for everybody who needs one, not just multimillionaires who flew the coop and stopped caring.
Christchurch’s housing stock has been reduced by a net 11,500 houses since the earthquakes.
Average rents have skyrocketed, rising by 27% since November 2011 compared with 8% nationwide. That is more than double the rise in household incomes (from 2010-2012).
Christchurch families are living with less in their pockets when they are already stressed to the max.
To make matters worse, National is now proposing to charge fringe benefit tax for the privilege of living in temporary rebuild accommodation!
Labour is looking at a range of options to help: including rent caps; rent freezes and rent control. That needs to be designed carefully.
What we can do right now is to get the Tenancy Tribunal onto stopping price gouging dead in its tracks. I busted the Telecom monopoly because I have no patience with businesses that prey on the misfortunes of our people.
I will put the power of the state behind new local partnerships that will drive a rapid increase in housing supply, while keeping it local. I won’t be shy about using the Crown’s balance sheet to help.
Behind the housing crisis is an insurance crisis. I want to recognise the great work Clayton Cosgrove has been doing on this, including digging into the conflicts of interest around earthquake rebuild contracts.
John Key’s Government left the people of Christchurch to struggle alone with the multinational insurers whose interests are not a fair and just outcome for the people of Christchurch. It is a disgrace.
People need advocacy and support and a Labour government I lead will make sure that happens.
EQC is a government agency. Gerry Brownlee is the responsible Minister. The people of Christchurch had the right to believe that EQC would be on their side.
EQC is fighting the insurers; the insurers are fighting back; and who is missing out? The people of Christchurch. The people of Christchurch should not have to go to court to get justice!
The people of Christchurch have been completely left out of any discussion about the future of their City. That will change with Lianne as Mayor and me as your Prime Minister!
Like her, I want Christchurch’s legacy to be a powerful message of recovery, leading to new opportunities that make us more resilient and more sustainable than we were before.
This is not just a Christchurch issue. As we know all too well, we all live under the threat of seismic shocks. Getting recovery and resilience right in Christchurch is a New Zealand priority.
National stripped democracy from ECan.
Christchurch should be voting for ECan councillors in two weeks’ time. But they reneged on the deal.
I believe that if National were to win next year’s election, CERA would be extended as well.
Trampling over your rights and freedoms is nothing new to John Key. He will fast-track building a casino in Auckland but he won’t prioritise building state houses in Christchurch.
He gave broad sweeping powers to the GCSB to sweep your emails and phone records; but he denies the people of Christchurch the right to democratic process over sweeping streets.
As the next Labour Prime Minister I will immediately review and then repeal the GCSB Act and replace it with appropriate legislation. And we will restore democracy to the people of Christchurch.
To get a Labour Government, the Labour Party needs to win in 2014.
To do that, we need three things: urgency, unity and strategy.
We have less than a year to lift our numbers.
Labour has consistently under-estimated John Key. I won’t. But I’ve got his number and he knows it.
But time is short. We must make the right call right now. We don’t have time to kick tyres.
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.
At the last election more than 800,000 people - a fifth of the population didn’t vote.
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 that is ready to win.
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.