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Strictly Dancing: Labour celebrates 90 years

Otago Southland Labour Regional Council

MEDIA RELEASE

6 July 2006


Strictly Dancing: Labour celebrates 90 years

On 8 July it will be the New Zealand Labour Party’s 90th birthday and to celebrate; Otago and Southland Labour will hold a ballroom dance in Dunedin.

The Party wants anyone who supports Labour, not just members, to attend.

Outgoing President of the Otago Southland Labour Regional Council Heather Grimwood, said Strictly Dancing will be a fun night, to celebrate Labour’s past and to look forward to a bright future.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen will be the star guest at the dance; as Labour’s deputy Prime Minister; Finance Minister, List MP; and importantly the previous member for Dunedin South, Mr Cullen holds a special place in the heart of the Otago Southland Labour Party.

Otago’s three MPs (and Cabinet Ministers) Hons Pete Hodgson, David Benson-Pope and David Parker will also attend.

The dance will be run by the South Dunedin Dance Club and include traditional dances such as the Foxtrot; the Waltz and the Tango. Some more modern dance numbers will also be played.

“You don’t have to be a Labour Party member to attend,” Heather Grimwood said. “Just be a supporter and a fellow traveller.”

She said this was an exciting time for Labour.

“Labour party members share many important values about a fair go for all people, managing renewable resources for generations to come and cooperation rather than competition.

“That involves drawing on the success and lessons of the past and having a visionary approach to the future.

“Our vision has been to rebuild the fairness, opportunity, and security our people knew in the late 1930s to the 1960s and to add to it the dynamism, the energy, the momentum, and the excitement which goes with being a successful nation in the 21st century.

“Established in 1916, the Labour Party is the longest established political party in New Zealand. Labour's vision - of a more just society where all may live in comfort and security - remains unchanged to this day.

“Successive Labour Governments have introduced radical and progressive measures that contributed to the steady improvement and ultimate transformation of New Zealand society. Even when out of office, Labour has largely set the agenda for political debate.”

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Saturday 8 July:

90th Anniversary Dance

8pm – late

South Dunedin Community Hall, King Edward St

Entry: $5 plus a “plate” for supper. The dancing will be mostly “old time” with a few newer numbers thrown in.

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Lunch details

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the formation of the New Zealand Labour Party, the Dunedin South Branch will also hold a lunch on 8 July.

The lunch will be held at Wobbly’s Bar and Restaurant, Victoria Road, St Kilda, on Saturday, 8th July 2006 at noon. The New Zealand Labour Party was formed at a conference held in Wellington on the 7-8 July 1916. The Dunedin South Branch was affiliated to the Party in September 1923.

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Background

Labour came into being in 1916 on the basis of wide industrial support. As it became a major force in the 1920's it broadened its policies and membership to reflect the aspirations of all those who wanted to build a better New Zealand.

The Great Depression of the 1930's demonstrated the failure of conservative policies, be they social or economic. Michael Joseph Savage led Labour to a sweeping victory in 1935 on the promise of radical changes. Over the next few years Labour introduced a series of measures which have become fundamental to New Zealand society and culture.

For the first time access to health care became affordable for all. The State assumed a major responsibility to provide low cost housing to those in need. A comprehensive social welfare system gave security to the elderly, the infirm, and those without employment. Access was opened to secondary and tertiary education. Judicious government intervention rebuilt our economy, reducing unemployment. Workers also benefited by industrial legislation that introduced the 40 hour week and made it easier for unions to negotiate on their behalf.

Under Michael Savage Labour formed an enduring partnership with Maori. Labour began the process whereby redress was made for the wrongs of the past, the particular needs of Maori were addressed, and the unique qualities of Maori culture could be both recognised and fostered.

In 1940, Peter Fraser became Prime Minister. Under Labour, the contributions of the armed services during World War II were immense, as were those of civilians. Labour sought to ensure that the burdens of war were equally shared.

Between 1945-49 Labour presided over the rebuilding of a prosperous peacetime society. Peter Fraser also played a major role in the establishment of the United Nations.

Successive Labour Governments have built upon the foundations laid by Savage and Fraser.

Between 1957-60 the Walter Nash led Labour Government carried on the progressive foreign policies of the first Labour Government, by continuing to champion the interests of small powers. Domestically, the introduction in 1960 in the Public Service of Equal Pay for Women for Equal Work paved the way for its full adoption four years later. An intensive Government- sponsored report in 1960 on the problems and future of Maori was to bear fruit only after Labour was out of power.

The third Labour Government led by Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling was short lived. Both governments faced major external economic difficulties. Each government responded with responsible economic decisions, which did not gain the approval of the wider electorate.

The lasting legacy of the 1972-5 Government is the Accident Compensation Corporation. The decision by Kirk in 1973 to bar from entry a racially selected Springbok team was a major step towards a more mature attitude in New Zealand's own race relations.

The Fourth Labour Government 1984-90, led successively by David Lange, Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore made difficult and overdue decisions to modernise the New Zealand Economy.

Labour's uncompromising anti-nuclear stance, championed by David Lange, gained domestic and international respect. The establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal was a great step towards the final redress of past Maori grievances.

Even in the periods between 1951 and 1984 when Labour was out of office its ideas were often centre stage. Successive National governments admitted that they held power by "stealing Labour's clothes." However the last National Government ended this broad consensus by adopting extremist policies in industrial relations and economic management.

When the current Labour-led Government, headed by Helen Clark, gained power in 1999 it was necessary to restore balance to industrial actions through the Employment Relations Act.

The Government has become an active partner with the private sector in the pursuit of economic improvement.

The goals of social security are also being addressed. Income related State House Rentals have been reintroduced. Cuts made by National to superannuation benefits have been reversed. The Accident Compensation Commission has been both reformed and restored to its original responsibilities. The "market" model of health care has been abandoned. More resources are being allocated to Health and Education.

Labour has established a sustainable way of continuing to provide adequate State Superannuation. Inequities within New Zealand Society still need to be resolved. The quest for economic security will continue.

Labour was re-elected to Government in 2002, and again in 2005. As it faces its 90 year anniversary, the Party is delivering a fair and inclusive society for all New Zealanders, in line with its initial aims.


ENDS

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