Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Lisa Owen interviews Labour hopeful Andrew Little

Lisa Owen interviews Labour hopeful Andrew Little


Andrew Little reveals he will “think about” joining the leadership race if he’s confirmed as an MP today.

Warns colleagues competing for the leadership to “keep this seemly”

Says reasons for Labour’s loss “complex”, but raising the age of eligibility for superannuation “frightens people” and some big policies didn’t provide economic security

Says unions “want a leader who is going to be able to unify” the party

Lisa Owen: And it looks like the contest for Labour's leadership will be a bruising one, given the sniping that began this past week, but one of the men considered a unifier inside the caucus is former union boss and lawyer Andrew Little, who joins us now from New Plymouth. Good morning, Mr Little.

Andrew Little: Good morning, Lisa.

Wasn't really a great start to the leadership race this week with name-calling. What does that tell us about what's going on within the Labour party?

I think the result we had in this election has been a pretty difficult one for people to get to grips with, so emotions are running a little high. But we do need to keep this seemly. We do have a leadership election race in the party now. That's inevitable, but we've got to be able to demonstrate, as we did in the last election race about a year ago, that we can conduct this in a good way and in a way that's positive for the party, and I certainly hope that we'll be able to demonstrate that this time.

Are you thinking about throwing a hat into the ring?

Well, I'm just waiting to see whether I'm going to be still in parliament. I won't know until 2 o'clock today, and, really, my efforts in the last couple of weeks have been focused on closing out some work and then thinking about what the party needs to do irrespective of who is the leader, because I think that's the big challenge in front of us now, is working out why we got the result we did and working out how we can now start the process of communicating to New Zealand in a way that they want to be talked to and, most importantly, listened to. That's the task ahead of us, and that's what we have to focus on.

But if you think the best way to serve the Labour party is to vie for the leadership, will you go for it?

Well, it's not something that I've given thought to at this point. No doubt, if I'm confirmed today, I'll have an opportunity to think about it. If I'm not, then I'll find other ways to support the cause, because what the party stands for is very important. It's very important in terms of a whole bunch of people who are looking for a fairer deal and a better deal because they're not getting it at the moment.

Tell me, do you think there does need to be more than two candidates in the race, though? Would that be better for Labour?

Well, people will put their hat in the ring if they think that they're up for the job and are prepared to go through the rigours of it. I think everybody in the party — caucus members, party members — are searching around for what lies behind the result that we achieved, and people say the policies were pretty good; we had a campaign that was well supported. People want to know the reason why.

What in your view are the reasons behind that drubbing?

Well, there are a lot of complex factors. I think a combination of some of the very big policies we had out there along with the potential line-up of coalition partners, I think, in the end, scared people. People are wanting a level of security — economic security, personal security — and they didn't see us delivering that, and I think part of the review process but also part of the conversation that we have and the way we have it over the next few months has got to look at just the sort of things we're putting up, the way we're putting them up and whether actually that's where people are at at the moment. We have a big challenge ahead of us to do that.

Mr Little, you mentioned a couple of the big policies you thought scared people. Which ones do you mean?

Well, I think raising the eligibility age for superannuation. Of course, it's a sensible idea in terms of the future cost of superannuation. It makes sense on paper, but the reality is it frightens people, working people. It came up time and again in the campaign. People interpret that policy, saying, gee, they're gonna have to work another two years, even though the way the policy's written, it won't affect a lot of people for another 10, 15, even longer years. So we have to think about whether it's the way we presented it, whether it's the right policy for now — those are the sorts of things we're going to have to be very honest and blunt with ourselves about whether we should be putting that sort of thing out there.

Tell me, do you think actually within Labour there are two parties fighting to get out, that there are a division between, say, the centrists and the others?

Labour has supported a number of political parties across the spectrum at the moment. No, there isn't. We are described as a broad church; it gets a little facile after a while. We are a party that has a broad range of interests, and actually, in spite of all the comments about our caucus over the last year or three years, we've actually been pretty united in our purpose. And there are always going to be differences of emphasis and priorities and preferences that people have, but actually we are pretty clear about good jobs, strong economy to deliver those jobs and fairness for people — that's what we ultimately stand for. And we have to do a bit better about talking to people about that and hearing from New Zealanders about how they want to see that delivered in a political way.

So, just very briefly, in 10 seconds, can you tell me what are the unions saying about the leadership race? What are you hearing?

Oh, I think they are saying, 'Listen, the contest is on.' They want a leader who is going to be able to unify, who is going to be able to lead that conversation with them as well as the party as well as the public of New Zealand and lead up a positive platform for 2017.

All right, thank you very much for joining me this morning. That's Andrew Little.

Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Let It Go: MP Pay To Be Frozen

The Government is freezing MP salaries and allowances for a year while developing a fairer formula for future pay increases.

The Remuneration Authority is due to make a decision on MP pay shortly.

“Today Cabinet agreed to freeze MP Pay till July 2019, and to reassess the funding formula used by the Authority to ensure it is fair and in keeping with this Government’s expectations and values,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. More>>


Cop Shop Top-Up: 1800 New Police Through NZ

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has today confirmed further details around the allocation of the 1800 additional officers, following a $298.8 million increase for Police in Budget 2018... “These 1800 officers, alongside 485 support staff, will really enhance our work to keep people safe, and ensure they feel safe,” says Mr Bush. More>>


Human Right Commissions: Concern On Aged Care And Consent

A new report published by the Human Rights Commission raises concerns about the legal and human rights safeguards for an estimated 5000 elderly New Zealanders in secure dementia units and psychogeriatric facilities. More>>


Justice Reform: Andrew Little Interviewed By Corin Dann

“We’ve had thirty years of the auction of more penalties, more crime, more people in prison but it‘s not working, it’s not making us safe.” More>>


Greens AGM: Leadership Stands Firm On Waka Jumping Bill

The Green Party leadership have dug in their heels and will not be reversing any of the decisions they have made in government. Former MPs Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sue Bradford had hoped the caucus might be persuaded this weekend to pull its support from the waka jumping bill. More>>


TOP Still Going, Actually: New Leader For Opportunities Party

New leader Geoff Simmons' aim as the leader of TOP is to take the party into Parliament at the next election where it can advocate and implement progressive reform in areas including fair taxation, cannabis legalisation, affordable housing, and environmental protection. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Another Reason To Loathe HR Departments (And On The Teachers Strike)

This morning’s news item about Police emergency call centre staff turning up for work while they’re sick – because they’re afraid their sick leave statistics will be used against them, and their jobs put in jeopardy – is not an isolated case... More>>

MPs' Computers To Be Searched: Inquiry Into Leak On Simon Bridges' Expenses

An inquiry has been launched to find out who leaked the National Party's expenses to the media... Parliament's speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen's Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills. More>>


Teachers Strike: Nationwide Rallies And Marches

Teachers and principals voted for a full day strike to be held on 15 August to send a strong message to the Government that the current collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education would not fix the crisis in teaching. More>>





Featured InfoPages