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Today, we are a better country

Posted by on August 19th, 2013

It’s not often these days that we can say it, but today, we are a better country.  Shortly, the first of 31 same-sex couples who have registered to marry will do so on the first day they are able to. (as an aside congrats to Jeff Montgomery, the Marriage Registrar and the team at DIA who have done a great job in preparing for today).  Today marks the culmination of years of work from thousands of New Zealanders to achieve marriage equality- congratulations and thanks to you all.

We are a better country today because we take further steps towards equality.  I have always held that a country that can include people, rather than seek to exclude will be stronger.  For many New Zealanders their exclusion from a cherished social institution such as marriage made them feel second class.  The heart of this issue is that we can show that we all have the same intrinsic human value and that we should all have a fair chance at life.  We have a long way to go when it comes to equality in New Zealand, but in the case of marriage, today we get there.

We are a better country today because we are giving a new generation one of the great gifts- hope.  Yesterday I attended a terrific celebration of the entry into force of the law, which doubled as a fundraiser for Schools Out, the support group for LGBT secondary school students.  For those young people the message of this Bill is that they can have hope for a life where they will be treated fairly and embraced for who they are.  The challenges facing young people coming to terms with their sexuality still loom large. But through this Act, just as it was for me with Homosexual Law Reform in 1986, they can dream about what their life might be with some real hope.

We are a better country today because we recognise the importance of love.  Some of the most moving submissions that were received on the Bill were from parents. They told us of their unconditional love for their children,  and their desire that all their children, whether they were straight or gay, be given the same shot at happiness.  The love of parents and the love of a couple who desire to make a commitment are both given new life today.

At Alf and my Civil Union my very good friend Alex sang this song.  As he said that day, it is fundamentally about courage.  Today is about the courage of those who worked so hard to stand against discrimination over so many decades, and the courage of those who will today, finally, have the chance to show their love and commitment to their partners.  As Nick Cave says ” we make a little history”, today.

Labour’s Policy Platform

Posted by on August 4th, 2013

One of the more significant developments from Labour’s Organisational Review has been the decision to create an enduring Policy Platform for Labour.  This is to be a high level framework for Labour’s policy, outlining the values, vision and approach Labour will take to policy in government.

The Labour Party conference last year decided that it will be binding on elected representatives of the Party, and the manifesto written for each election has to be consistent with the Platform. (The last point is important- the Platform is meant to be high-level. It is not a manifesto for a particular election.  Not ever policy area is covered, it is not meant to be an exhaustive list. The specific commitments that Labour will make at each election will continue to be put through the normal manifesto process).

The work on the platform actually started last year. It is truly a member driven document, with drafts coming from Policy Committees, discussed at last year’s annual conference, revised and discussed again at regional conferences this year.

The latest draft of the document was agreed Policy Council of the Labour Party last week. You can find it here.  It will now be the subject of regional seminars where amendments can be proposed. These will be consolidated by the party’s Policy Committees, debated at Annual Conference in November where the Platform will be adopted. In future years it will be possible to amend the Platform through the regional and annual conference process.

This does represent a further step in our democratic policy making process. Labour will now have a reference point for the inevitable question, ” what does Labour think about….”. The platform shows our commitment to social democratic principles, our pride in what we have achieved and provides the foundations for future Labour governments.

The core of the draft platform is the statement of our values. These are the guiding principles for the rest of the platform and will be given life by the policy priorities that we approve in our manifesto.

  • Freedom/Rangitiratanga
  • Equality/Oritetanga
  • Opportunity/Whakaritanga
  • Solidarity/Kotahitanga
  • Sustainability/Kaitiakitanga

In the draft platform the chapters that follow highlight our vision for a productive, inclusive, caring and independent New Zealand. They also show how Labour will approach each policy area, grounded in our principles, reflecting the spirit of the age and the opportunities and challenges of our changing world. The platform shows that we are a party whose actions have a principled underpinning. It shows New Zealanders what we stand for and the values, approach and priorities that will guide us when we have the privilege to lead a government.

There has been plenty of vigorous debate within the Party about this document- and there will be more.  That is the mark of a strong political party, where we care about the future of our country and world, and where know that our values and principles matter to what kind of country we have been and will be in the future.

Whether you are a member of the Party or not, we are interested in your views on the platform. Click on the link above to have a read.  Feel free to leave them in the comments here, or if you have a more substantive contribution you can email


“Arguably” Bulls**t

Posted by on May 22nd, 2013

Apparently, according to a six line news brief on page seven of the New Zealand Herald today, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report into the possible unlawful spying on New Zealanders has cleared the GCSB of any illegality. That’s it, nothing to see here, move on everyone.

Except that the New Zealand Herald would have to be clairvoyant to actually make that claim, because John Key has decided that the report will not be released because its not in “New Zealand’s interest” to do so. Instead we must rely on a media release from Ian Fletcher the Director of the GCSB, who tells us that Paul Neazor has found that the actions of the GCSB were “arguably” legal. Presuambly this means they were arguably illegal as well?

The Inspector=General is meant to be our watchdog on these agencies. Frankly I couldn’t care less what John Key’s family friend thinks about the report. New Zealanders deserve to see it. It must be made public if there is any hope for New Zealanders to regain a shred of confidence in our intelligence agencies. That must be followed by a full inquiry into our intelligence agencies.

The lack of transparency around this government is now reaching crisis levels. Denying Parliament access to information about the legal consequences of the mean spirited carers legislation and the legislating away of rights of appeal, missing BORA reports and Regualtory Imapcts are the new normal under National.

Bear in mind that the Office of the Ombudsmen, the agency charged with dealing with complaints about government actions, has a backlog of thousands of cases, and is actually investigating a number of government agencies about their non-compliance with the Official Information Act. That is how bad things have gotten under National.

This government is riding roughshod over our constitutional norms and practices of good governance. This cuts to the heart of our system of democratic government. It might not rate as a nightly news story, and for people struggling to make ends meet it will be at the bottom of their list of problems. But it does matter, because transparency of government is at the heart of the social contract of our liberal democracy. Without it, government loses legitimacy. They must not, and will not, get away with this.

All that Glitters is Not Gold

Posted by on May 17th, 2013

After the hurly-burly of Budget Day died down yesterday evening I turned my attention to the Arts, Culture and Heritage aspects of the Budget. Expectantly, I looked for the media statement from the Minister Chris Finlayson extolling his government’s commitment to our cultural sector. But it was nowhere to be found. A look at the Vote Arts Culture and Heritage papers, and it was clear why. Cuts to public broadcasting, regional museums, MCH and more.

My tweet about this discovery led Chris Finlayson to respond to me that I was “tragic” because I did not realise that this was “a golden age for the Arts in New Zealand“. The reaction on Twitter soon made clear that not many people shared the Minister’s golden glow.

To be clear, the role of the Minister or the government in the lustre of any particular time for the Arts is only partial. Artists themselves will define that. It is certainly true that there is terrific creative content being produced all over the country. What the Minister has to answer for is the extent to which the government is supporting, promoting and developing that.

If we are looking for a “golden age” in that regard, Helen Clark’s cultural recovery package of the early 2000s stands out. After a decade of declining investment in the arts and culture, an $86 million jolt breathed new life into CNZ, film, music, heritage preservation and more. Michael Volkering has argued that the package was only one part of her cultural legacy that also stretched to our military heritage, pushing creative industries and regional arts.

I am not trying to make out everything was perfect in the time of the Clark government. But it did represent an injection of pride in ourselves as a nation, and of the place of the Arts in New Zealand. The Prime Minister was the Minister for Arts and that status meant something.

Chris Finlayson deserves credit for his personal contribution to various artistic endeavours, and for continuing much of the good work of the Clark government. But where he lets himself down is in his dismissal of Clark’s legacy and his vainglorious attempts to cast himself as the saviour of the Arts.

As we stand today, there are number of significant issues that require urgent attention. One issue that is raised with me often is the difficulty for artists in working with key government cultural agencies. For example, the changes made to Creative New Zealand funding over recent years by the Minister have led to a cumbersome and confused process. In sectors such as theatre there is strain, threats of court action and people simply walking away. Overall, there is an absence of regional and local understanding in funding decisions. Meanwhile legislation to reform Creative New Zealand sits moribund on the Parliamentary Order Paper.

Another example is the freeze on funding for public broadcasting is taking its toll. (This Budget funding actually drops by $3 million). New Zealand On Air has managed to fund some terrific programmes in the last few years, but budgets simply can not keep pace. Radio New Zealand in particular is struggling, and seems set to be commercialised in some way by a new Chief Executive. Public television is all but non-existent. Overall the government does not seem to see the importance of public broadcasting nor realise its significance to our cultural identity.

Despite the undoubted success of film and music, both sectors struggle to sustain artists beyond an elite few. New strategies are required for the new world of technology and distribution, but leadership and inspiration are lacking.

Now is the time for Minister Finlayson to show that leadership and inspiration. That is how a Minister can contribute to a golden age, otherwise it’s simply fool’s gold.

Parekura Horomia- our friend, our chief

Posted by on April 29th, 2013

Today we lost our dear friend and colleague Parekura Horomia. All of us in the Labour whanau are feeling his passing very deeply. We think tonight of his whanau, especially his boys and his moko. I will remember his generous spirit, total commitment to his people and to Labour and his wicked sense of humour. Miss you, chief.

David Shearer and Moira Coatsworth paid tribute on our behalf tonight.

Kua hinga he totara i te wao nui a Tane
A totara has fallen in the forest of Tane.

Labour Leader David Shearer says he and his colleagues are devastated at the loss of Labour MP, the Honourable Parekura Horomia, “our matua”.

“We send our love and thoughts to his whanau, especially his sons and his mokopuna, and to all the others whose lives he has touched.

“New Zealand has lost a truly great Maori leader.

“Parekura devoted his life to championing Maori aspiration and achievement. Before entering politics he was a leader in work and community employment schemes on the East Coast. He took his grassroots knowledge through to leadership within the public sector, in roles in community employment and Maori development.

“As an MP and Minister he worked tirelessly to support the achievements of his people and of Maori across New Zealand.

“Under his guidance Maori well-being improved, employment increased and opportunities in education flourished. He also oversaw the establishment of Maori Television and expansion of iwi radio.

“As a politician there were few who could match Parekura’s knowledge of Maori issues. At every marae and town in this country Parekura was welcomed as a leader and a friend. He was respected across New Zealand and across political lines.

“His wisdom, passion and humour were a guiding light for Labour, and I will miss him and his advice tremendously.

“His loyalty to Labour and to our values of inclusion, fairness and solidarity was absolute. He stood strong for the people of Ikaroa-Rawhiti and for the rights of all Maori.

“We have lost a man of immense mana, a man of conviction and of compassion. We celebrate his contribution to Aotearoa-New Zealand, and we mourn the loss of a great leader.

“The Labour whānau is heart-broken today,” David Shearer said.

Moira Coatsworth, Labour Party President said: “Parekura, our Labour matua and Vice President, will leave a huge gap. He was loved and respected throughout New Zealand after a lifetime of service fighting hard for a better life for all. Within Labour he inspired dedication and much affection and he worked tirelessly for our movement.”

Power to the People

Posted by on April 26th, 2013

If you wanted a reason to know why we need to do something about power prices, look no further than the lead story in today’s Dominion Post. 44% of people in the survey are living pay day to pay day. The cost of living is taking its toll as unemployment stays high and wages are not keeping pace. Raewyn Fox from the Family Budgeting Services Federation said they had seen a 60% increase in those needing financial support and advice in the last two years. And yes, she highlighted power prices as one of the causes of financial stress.

One of the reasons I am really proud of New Zealand Power as a policy is that it will put money back into the pockets of ordinary New Zealanders.  It is a hugely significant change to the way our electricity system is run. Its not something that we have gone into lightly, but New Zealanders have been ripped off for too long. Its time that people come first, not super-profits and million dollar CE salaries. This policy cuts to the heart of reducing inequality and it will help businesses who struggle with energy costs to develop and create more jobs.

This is what we mean by Labour being a hands-on government.  We can use the power of being in government to change our country for the better.  And yes, you can expect to see more bold policy from Labour. Just like KiwiBuild and NZ Power we are not going to sit on our hands while opportunity and prosperity concentrates in the hands of the few. National’s disastrous policies in education, labour relations and elsewhere need to be, and will be, turned around. And we are not going to be put off by the predictable howls of outrage from those with a vested interest.

The government Labour leads will be a progressive, social democratic government, far, far different from the hands-off crony capitalism of the National Party. Get on board if you want to be part of it!

Diminish, Divert, Demean- John Key’s MO

Posted by on April 4th, 2013

A curious thing happened in Parliament last Wednesday. In the midst of the red cards for Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins, John Key had, unprompted, decided to tell New Zealanders that the Director of the GCSB who he had recommended to the Governor General for appointment some 18 months ago was a family friend. Curious in that he had not thought it important enough to mention up to now, and more so that he was not actually asked about the relationship.

Why then, raise the issue? We know now it was because he was looking to limit the damage from the revelation that he intervened in the selection process for the Director by shoulder tapping his old friend, who then was the only person who was interviewed for the job.

This whole episode is a classic example of John Key’s modus operandi – diminish, divert, demean. (more…)

New Year Hangover brought to you by the letters N.A.T….

Posted by on January 1st, 2013

If you thought that your hangover was starting to fade, National has made New Year’s Day a cracker for short sighted, unfair and just plain dumb policies to come into force.

Prescription Charges Up. Today is the day prescriptions rise from $3 to $5. Might not seem much from the comfort of Tony Ryall’s viewpoint, but a trip to a pharmacy in any low income area will tell you a different story. Many people struggle to pay for their medicine now, let alone with the price increase. Maryan Street has covered it really well here. Unfair, and just plain wrong.

Student Allowances Abolished for Postgrads. I have covered this a few times on Red Alert, but from today no postgraduate student will be eligible for allowances. Shortsighted, and likely to drive many bright hopes overseas. And so unfair to those in the middle of programmes who had no warning of this from National. Like my constituent who simply can’t afford to complete her Clinical Psychology qualification because even using a student loan she is $75 a week down in “income” and can’t afford to look after her daughter on that. Shame.

No more Kyoto. From today the government has abandoned our commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in favour of our own “voluntary” commitments. We used to be respected in the world for our work on climate change, but National has systematically undermined that through changes to ETS and now this. Our reputation with small island states will take a major hit. We are now seen as not only not a leader, but not even doing our fair share.

In fairness today also marks another increase in tax on tobacco. Labour supports this, as the international evidence shows price is one of the most successful ways of stopping people smoking. But it has to go along with access to other treatments to help people kick their addiction.

So, its Happy New Year from National. But actually I am feeling really positive today. 2013 will be the year we see New Zealanders come together to find a fairer, more hopeful and compassionate future for our country. That is Labour’s way and that is our goal.

It’s Christmas Eve

Posted by on December 24th, 2012

And, as is becoming traditional here is the one true Christmas anthem, to wish everyone a peaceful and restful festive season. Its been a big year in political terms, and I am pretty sure I am not the only one looking forward to a break. Its also a time to think of those for whom 2012 has not been much fun- those without work and/or struggling to make ends meet. Those in war zones around the world and those for whom this season will provide no reason to celebrate. Take some time out to count your blessings and re-commit to making the world a fairer and better place.

In terms of Red Alert, watch out in the new year for a re-launch with a different approach and way of doing things. Exciting times ahead.

Adjournment Debate- Grant Robertson

Posted by on December 13th, 2012

The fourth and final speaker for Labour in the adjournment debate was, well, me. Its a pity I can’t sing, but I did my best to end the year with a bit of levity through National’s 12 Days of Christmas aka the National’s 12 Fiascos. I hope you enjoy!

Adjournment Debate- Jacinda Ardern

Posted by on December 13th, 2012

Third speaker for Labour in the adjournment debate was Jacinda Ardern. This was an excellent speech, challenging the government’s abysmal social record that sees inequality at its worst ever levels and hundreds of thousands of children in poverty. Jacinda laid down some specific policy challenges for National to get in behind Labour’s policies.

Adjournment Debate- David Parker

Posted by on December 13th, 2012

Second up for Labour in the Adjournment Debate was David Parker. He went through National’s shameful economic performance (to quote David Clark, ” the worst economic record in 50 years!) and outlined some of Labour’s alternative policies. David has had a really good year shifting the debate on monetary policy and pushing the need for a more active government role to stimulate our economy.

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Adjournment Debate- David Shearer

Posted by on December 13th, 2012

The final Parliamentary debate of the year is an opportunity to sum up the political year and enjoy a few laughs. Labour had four speakers yesterday, and I will post them up in order today. First up was David Shearer who delivered a funny but also very pointed summing up of National’s Year to Forget. The consensus at the Press Gallery Party last night was that his was the best speech on the day.

RMA Reforms: The Chainsaw Massacre Part II

Posted by on December 9th, 2012

A curious thing happened last week. The government introduced to Parliament the first of two pieces of legislation to “reform” the Resource Management Act. That isn’t itself curious, what is, is that the Minister responsible, Amy Adams has not even put out a media release about the Bill.

Hard to fathom why, but if it is because she is ashamed, then she has every right to be. While there is innocuous and even possibly useful changes in the Bill, it gives a number of signals of the government’s on-going desire to centralise power away from communities, reduce public input and tip the scales away from sustainable development. You can read more about Labour’s concerns here. and here.

Nothing exemplifies National’s approach better than the proposal to change the rules around what Councils can do to protect trees. This might not sound like a huge issue, but it has a lot of history, and National is buying a fight that is as wrong as it is silly.

Essentially what the Bill proposes is that a tree protection rule in a council plan can only apply to a particular tree that is specifically identified in the plan, or a grove of trees that are located on the same or adjacent allotments. The effect of this is that Councils will not be able to protect species or types of trees. The inverse of course is that if a specific tree is not protected then it could be felled. Whatever a bureaucratic nightmare will ensue.

The history here is that the government tried to make similar changes in their 2009 RMA reforms. The good people of Waitakere took a case to the Environment Court that created a definition of “groups of trees” that saw blanket protection possible for bush clad areas. Greg Presland has a good description of the situation and a link to the Environment Court judgement, here.

The law change proposed this last week is directly aimed at overturning the Court decision. But more than that it is a further attempt (alongside the Local Government Act and other aspects of this Bill) to take away from communities the right to make decisions about how they wish their communities to look and feel. And for no good reason at all.

I am sure this will re-ignite the debate about the protection of trees, especially in West Auckland. From Labour’s point of view we will strongly oppose this provision. Trees are a vital part of our environment, in rural and urban settings. Moreover we have to call time on a government that is systematically reducing the power of communities to decide their own future.

Sunday Sport: Omnishambles

Posted by on December 9th, 2012

Long time readers of Red Alert, and indeed Public Address, will know that cricket, and particularly the New Zealand cricket team mean a lot to me. Along with other NZ Cricket supporters I have had a lifetime of hope and dashed hope, dealing with heroic failure and abject failure, and celebrating the odd (actually there were lots in the 80s) moment of success. But always there for the lads.

So, for non cricketing folk you might wonder about the outpouring of emotion from cricket fans over the three part tragedy played out by New Zealand Cricket this week in partly sacking Ross Taylor, then fully sacking him and then appointing Brendon McCullum as Captain. Well, let’s just say there are many years of emotion attached to it. Actually I think New Zealand Cricket fans are the closest we get to the deep emotion of English football fans. The true fans, the ones who stick it out through wins and losses, feel this omnishambles deeply.

What happened? Well, here is my take. From my standpoint, Ross Taylor probably shouldn’t have been appointed captain in the first place. He was picked to be a “lead from the front” “do as I do, not as I say” kind of captain. In the wake of an unsettled period (Andy Moles, awkward Fleming/Vettori transition, John Wright debacle), and with questions hanging over the ability of a number of the team to cut it at international level, that might not have been wise.

But he was given the job. So, what was done to help him? Was Taylor given the support/training etc that he clearly needed if he was going to turn into a good test captain? Was he willing to accept that kind of support? It will be hard to know what has happened, but just as in politics the spin is now coming from both sides of the argument.

For my ten cents worth, Brendon McCullum is the obvious captain for the shorter forms of the game. Not because he is a fellow Kings High School old boy or because he is the world’s best 20/20 batsman, but because the games require more of the instinctive, gambler personality type that McCullum exhibits. For the test team I am not so sure. I think he could grow into that role, but I would have been happy to see Taylor do it for a while and see whether he could develop a bit more.

Other countries have different skippers for different formats. The difference there is the test captain is often not involved in the shorter form of the game so there is no sense of “confusion” with them on the team. Honestly, though, that must be able to be managed, if you have the will and wit to do so.

Speaking of a lack of wit, that brings us to NZ Cricket. The way NZ Cricket has handled this situation, and others over recent years shows an administration that is deeply flawed, and is bringing the game they are charged with looking after into disrepute. Everyone involved has been treated badly, and some will struggle to make the positive impact on the game that they should.

Ross Taylor is talking about being back for the England series. I hope he will be. But I will bet now that his international career will be shortened as a result of this farce, and that is something we will all end up regretting.

For Brendon McCullum he enters a hugely difficult period as captain. South Africa without your best batsman and with your team feeling demoralised. And then he will return to New Zealand and Taylor will be treated like a folk hero during the English series. The only thing that will give McCullum a break will be some good results. Here’s hoping, and in the meantime, I know I will be supporting the lads, as I always have. They need us now more than ever.

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Keep Our Talent

Posted by on December 3rd, 2012

It’s no exaggeration to say that almost every day I get a letter or email from a postgraduate student who is facing the prospect of not being able to finish their study next year because of the National government’s abolition of student allowances for postgraduate study. I have been working with a number to try to find a way for them to keep studying. Many of the letters are copies from people imploring Steven Joyce to change his mind. There seems to be no chance of that. A number are from students who thought they would be allowances next year as they are part way through their programmes. With a few exceptions (those with dependents who have same course code as this year) this is not happening. Steven Joyce’s confused communications about the issue have not helped.

A group of students affected by the cuts have undertaken a nationwide survey of those getting allowances to see the impact. Good on them for this initative. Amanda and the Keep Our Talent team have come up with some important and disturbing conclusions. 40% of those who responded said they were re-considering post-graduate study becuase of the cuts to allowances. 20% were looking at going overseas. As one respondent put it

I will not be able to do my PhD in New Zealand meaning I am less likely to do research on a topic that is relevant to New Zealand. I am sure others will be in a similar situation and this will severely disadvantage New Zealand’s knowledge and expertise.

The situation is particularly dire in long programmes like clinical psychology (which I will write about in another post). This really is one of the most heartless and short-sighted tertiary policies I have seen in 20 years working in this sector.

And worse of all. Steven Joyce won’t even meet the Keep Our Talent group to discuss their survey. Gutless.

Keep Our Assets: Sign-a-Thon

Posted by on November 25th, 2012

If you’ve got any spare time today, why not join in the Keep Our Assets Sign-a-Thon. This ia weekend long push to get us the remaining signatures we need to force a referendum on asset sales. Reports coming in from yesterday indicate a great response, just as it has been all year.

You can find out all the information about activities in your area here

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Annual Conference- It’s the constitution, it’s the vibe….

Posted by on November 24th, 2012

I’m not sure that sitting in David Shearer’s office on the day he and I had been elected Leader and Deputy Leader, discussing a root and branch review of our Party I actually believed we would see the most thorough review in a generation done and dusted in a year.

One of the other people in the room that day, Party President Moira Coatsworth deserves huge credit for making it happen- swiftly and inclusively. She and David Shearer had both committed to a thorough review, and between them, the working group, the review group and thousands of party members- we did it.

As it happens a couple of things (candidate and list selections particularly) have been pushed off to next year, but what has been achieved is nothing short of remarkable.

The reforms are exactly what we need to be a modern, outward looking and democratic organisation. The review meetings made clear what many people had felt. The way people look at joining organisations has changed significantly over the decades. The cynicism for politics of all shades is at an all time high. We needed to turn outwards and provide people with hightened levels of engagement, influence and fun.

The importance of being campaign ready and ‘party vote’ focused drove the creation of the “hubs” which I think will go from strength to strength. The more democratic process for election of the leader is a huge step forward for recruiting, involving and engaging members.

I want to specifically mention the significant change in terms of member involvement,the Policy Platform. Actually, it has been well covered by Anthony over at The Standard. This is a great development for Labour. It means that we will have an enduring Party endorsed statement of our policy. It will clearly state our values and priorities, and guide the creation of election manifestos. It’s in draft form now and through next year we will finalise it. I want to congratulate Jordan Carter and the rest of the Policy Council for the work on getting us to this stage. As the Chair of the Policy Council I am hugely impressed with the calibre of people we have involved in our policy work.

At the conference itself the robust debate was on the level of Caucus support to trigger our new democratised leadership process. What there was universal agreement on was the need for the process itself, in particular member involvement. Despite the impression one or two people want to make, no one was opposing the 40:40:20 process, and indeed over the review many Caucus members, me included, have strongly advocated for it.

The process is a balance between democratisation and stability, and throughout the review meetings I went to, and submissions I read, most members were very aware of the need for this. It’s interesting to note that a motion to not have a Caucus trigger for the Februry vote was soundly defeated by the conference.

In any event no one could mistake over the last year in the many review meetings and conversations, nor in the enthusiasm and passion at conference that the review is going to see a different party in the future. It will be more energised, dynamic and member driven. That will not be without its challenges and upsets, but it will be a very, very good thing for us and I hope for politics in general.

Annual Conference- The Young and the Restless

Posted by on November 24th, 2012

My first time up for air this week, and I have been reflecting on a remarkable annual conference. I’ll do a couple of posts, but I have an overriding residual impression from the conference, and its probably not what you think.

This was my 14th annual conference and without doubt had the highest level of energy and buzz of them all. A significant reason for that, and the stand out performance at the conference came from Young Labour (and recent Young Labour alumni).

They organised superbly through the weekend to see their core policy ideas pass the remit process, including on marriage equality, voting age and poverty eradication. They spoke brilliantly in workshops and on the conference floor, and had two outstanding candidates (Soraiya Daud and Rory McCourt) for the Young Labour rep on New Zealand Council. Congrats to Soraiya on winning that contest.

Having worked closely in the Wellington region with Young Labour over the last few years, this has not just happened over night. Its been dedicated work and an unabashed sense of fun that he seen Young Labour build year on year over recent years.

I have long felt that you can judge the strength of a party on its youth wings, and on any count Labour is in terrific heart taking a look at our young’uns. I left Ellerslie knowing that we are a Party and a movement with a bright and energised future.

A New Direction for New Zealand- David Shearer

Posted by on November 19th, 2012

Here is the speech that brought the Labour Party Conference to its feet. A strong articulation of Labour values, backed up by concrete ideas to take New Zealand on a path to prosperity and fairness. Two specific new policies as well, Kiwibuild that will see 100,000 affordable houses and the Healthy Homes Guarantee that will see proper standards for rental properties. Enjoy.