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David Cunliffe Whangarei Speech - 2 September 2013

A Labour Vision For the Future

Speech to Whangarei Labour members

MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release

2 September 2013


Ngā Mana Whenua, Nga iwi Ngapuhi, Nga iwi muriwhenua; tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Shane, Grant and I have been likened to reality TV and a boy band but actually I’m going to throw out there that we are more like a Band of Brothers fighting a common enemy – and that would be John Key and his National Government.

We are all really different people but that one cause does bind us – and ultimately will be what binds us as a caucus.  Because I know that our caucus, our party and the wider Labour movement are actually only after one thing from any of us – to leader Labour into victory in 2014.

So today I want to talk to you about what I as leader am going to do to achieve that and about the three things you will see different about New Zealand, including:

·         providing living wages and fair work for all our families;

·         a fair chance and a fair share for all

·         getting all New Zealanders into work;


When I was a kid my family did it tough at times. My Dad was a country vicar who didn’t earn much and he was seriously ill for part of my teenage years. But, you know what? It was still nowhere near as tough as some of you are doing right now thanks to the National Government

That’s why I am standing here today. Because I know Labour’s values really matter if we are going to have a better future in this country.

I know Labour has the same hopes you do – A better future, with well-paid jobs  - ones where you are respected and valued - opportunities for our kids; a good state education; housing; free health care and a secure retirement.

Those values are as true now as they ever were. And we need to make sure they are hardwired into the policies and decisions of government.

Sadly, that’s not happening right now.  John Key and the National Government don’t have the same values the rest of us have.

They don’t care about the rights of workers or how tough it is for hard working families to manage the high costs of petrol and power and food and rent.

I want to help the most vulnerable within the workforce. People like cleaners and other service workers, who get beaten down every time a cleaning contract changes hands. And in its latest appalling Employment Relations legislation, the National Government is taking away the last protections for vulnerable workers of so called ‘small employers’.

It wants to give bosses the right to walk away from negotiations without settling.  They even want to rob you of your smoko and lunch breaks!

What do we want?  National gone!  When do we want it?  Right now!

Under a Labour Government that I lead, that legislative rubbish will be gone by lunchtime! 

That’s right.  We will repeal the Employment Relations Amendment Bill and all the other draconian anti-worker laws within our first 100 days as Government.

No more right to fire at will, without even a decent explanation.

No more undermining the role of unions, who play a hugely positive role in keeping a workforce together and building safe healthy workplaces.

No more taking away your right to strike; no more selling your precious Christmas holidays. 

No more removing from the employers the obligations to settle, and wrecking the ability of unions to fight on your behalf. 

The employment relationship is not equal. It never has been; it never will be. That’s why we need policies and laws that are fair.

Under my leadership Labour will have fair industrial relations laws starting with industry standard agreements.  In the first 100 days of a Labour Government.

What do we want?  National gone!  When do we want it?  Right now!

But that’s not all John Key has done. He has given tax breaks to his big business mates and put up GST for the rest.

John Key and Paula Bennett climbed the ladder.  He grew up in a state house, but now won’t let state houses be built in his electorate at Hobsonville.  She used the training incentive allowance to get an education and then cancelled it for others. Labour people don’t pull the ladder up once they’ve climbed it.


Under Labour, we will do better.  Labour has the fresh ideas.  What we need now is the right leadership to make sure that everyone in New Zealand gets a fair chance and a fair share.

The Labour Government that I will lead will champion full employment.  Our aim will be that every New Zealander who is ready, willing and able to work is either in a job or training for one. 

That would be a huge change from John Key’s New Zealand, where thousands of applicants lined up for 150 supermarket jobs at one location.

But jobs, like money, do not grow on trees.  To be credible and responsible as well as visionary, the Labour government I lead will have a solid programme of economic development. 

That will be located within sound fiscal management.  Labour will be trusted with the public purse and we will not run away with the chequebook. 

But we must move Government off the side-lines and into new partnerships with communities, regions and local government that will create economic and social value.

They are projects that already exist but don’t neatly fit into Treasury’s business plan, for how they pick projects to support.

Like the Oakley to Marsden Point rail link, estimated at about $120 million, which is the kind of project that will create enormous value for the region but can’t get off first base.

Local government wanted it but didn’t have the money for it.  Kiwirail wants it but can’t afford it. It doesn’t fit with the Key Government’s transport policies or the narrow way that they evaluate whether to invest. And private sector investors aren’t going to touch it till they can be sure they will be able to recover their costs.

Provided we can ensure there is a proper nationwide port strategy, that vessels can navigate the bar, we should ensure the northern railway line is fit for purpose and not let National close it down. That will require some tunnel upgrades to future proof the line.

So a great project like the NorthPort rail link that fulfils Labour’s vision, and have all these regional and social benefits, doesn’t even get off the ground. What a waste!

I saw this in my own electorate with the New Lynn transport interchange.  Treasury advised against it. Government Ministers shied away from it. Everyone said it wasn’t doable.  But they were looking at it from such a narrow perspective and it took me and a whole lot of others to make sure the bigger economic development picture was included in the numbers.

We need to be bold.  We need the Government to be build new partnerships with communities, regions and industries that will get our economy out of first gear and get New Zealanders into good jobs right here in the regions. Economic growth in Northland under Labour was one of the strongest of any province in the country.

The Northland economy has collapsed under National because they lack vision, they leak heart, and they lack imagination. Far too many of our young people are left on the scrap heap waiting for a Labour Government that will drive economic development in all our regions.

And it’s not just Northland. Projects like Eastern Bay of Plenty marine farming, the Christchurch rebuild and smart manufacturing clusters in the Waikato. All show the kind of potential when government, the regions and business work together to lift our game and create jobs.


All our good intentions, all our policy, all our values and our platforms, will mean sweet nothing in the lives of our people unless we win in 2014.

I am here before you today because I am ready to lead Labour to victory now.

I am asking for your support because we have to win next year.We simply cannot afford four more years of National destroying our jobs and burdening down our families.  

As your leader I will unify the party, caucus and wider Labour movement, so that we are unstoppable in 2014.

I have experience and skills in business, in government and around the world that mean I can lead a Sixth Labour Government to victory in 2014, and to strengthen our economic credibility once we get there.

I can make tough calls when needed, even against powerful vested interests.  As a Minister and a front bencher, I busted the Telecom monopoly and kicked out a dodgy health board because I believed in doing what was right. 

This is no time for complacency.  We must choose a leader who has the skills and experience to do the job right now.


We need a leader who is grounded in the struggles of ordinary working families at an electorate level, but also skilled in making government work smarter, able to talk the languages of business and technology, and to operate on the world stage.

I have those skills and experience to fight for hardworking New Zealanders.

That is my commitment to you today.  No ifs, no buts, no maybes.  A Labour Government under my leadership is going to make a difference to your lives.

We are going to make sure we have the basics for families. We are going to build strong communities and we are going to fight for workers’ rights.

Under my Leadership, Labour will roll back National’s harsh employment laws and make a real difference to workers, their families and communities.

You know, it is easy for a politician to promise the earth, moon and stars. To say that everyone will have a job tomorrow and a living wage.  That is what I want and I won’t settle for less. 

It won’t come overnight and it won’t happen by accident.  It is going to take a lot of work.

My name is David Cunliffe. I am ready to win and ready to lead. I can foot it with John Key or any other National Minister in any debate, anywhere, anytime. 

I am proud to be part of the Labour Party team and am confident we will win the confidence and trust of the nation in 2014. 

We all want National gone.  We all want it right now.


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