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Voter turnout : How do we motivate more people to vote? Labour Leadership Q&A #8

Posted by on September 12th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 8

Voter turnout : How do we motivate more people to vote?

Question : To win the next election we need to motivate people to vote and win some of the swing voters in the middle. Share one strategy that you think would be most effective in achieving this?

Submitted by : Dalene Mactier, Southbridge


Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog. This started Tuesday 10th September, and continues till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.



Answer from David Cunliffe

We need three things: strategy, unity and urgency. At the last election more than 800,000 people didn’t vote. At the 2011 election, Labour failed to persuade enough New Zealanders that it was a credible alternative.

When National was telling them that they would cut them off at the knees, they don’t want to hear from Labour that it would too, just a little nearer to the ankles and with more anaesthetic.

I will lead a true red Labour Party, not a pale blue one. I will lead a team that is a clear alternative to John Key.

Voters will understand the difference between Labour and National and how we will build a fairer, more inclusive New Zealand.

We must be united to win. Voters disengage when there is disunity.

Everyone in Labour must put the interests of the party and the country first. We also need to be ready to win now.

We have less than a year to lift our numbers. John Key will spend billions to get re-elected. He is battle-ready and has the best spin money can buy.

New Zealanders need us to win so that they can get back on the ladder to success.


Answer from Shane Jones

Voter turnout is essential.

I am confident I can reconnect the Party with a broader range of voters. I am able to deal with the reasons why 800,000 kiwis chose not to vote in 2011.

A significant percentage of them are in the provinces.

I believe I can broaden the appeal of the Party to these people.

There is no single silver bullet.

However a robust organisation on the ground with vivid messages will work.


Answer from Grant Robertson

We need to be talking to people about the things that matter in their lives – how can they afford their first home, what opportunities are there for their kids when the leave school and university, are there decent jobs out there for them?

If we talk to people about the issues that matter to them, they will see that Labour has the vision and the policies to make a difference in to their lives.

I don’t think for a minute that middle New Zealand is better off under a National Government.

Under National their wages are stagnant, their power bills are growing and our public schools are getting shafted.

I will unite Labour so we can focus on selling our policies to New Zealanders and if we can do that we’ll win.


Why I voted this way?

Posted by on March 13th, 2013

[From 19:30 – 21:55, Wednesday, I made NINE attempts but still could not secure an opportunity to take a call at the Bill’s second reading. The following is what I wished to say:]

To those who have accused me of sitting on the fence at the Bill’s first reading, I say to them they were right. Because I was torn between two extreme and opposing views, and I found both views to be very convincing. I therefore decided not to vote at the Bill’s first reading.

Following steps of a rather informal consultation with my fellow Asian constituents, and also constituents of wider communities, I’ve now decided to vote in favour of this Bill, for the following reasons:

Firstly, I would like to quote David Do, who is New Zealand born, but of Chinese-Vietnamese descent. He told the Parliamentary Select Committee that it was wrong to simply imagine Kiwis of European descent supported gay marriage, while those of Asian or Pacific background opposed it. He said many people within immigrant families supported gay marriage, but could not speak out.  And he went on to say, and I quote:

“At least one thing that obviously unites the diverse Asian community is a desire to live free from discrimination, and to ensure everyone, regardless of their background, has the equal opportunity to succeed and live free lives.”

I believe it is very important for KiwiAsians to be informed, to be aware of the issues, so they can be knowledgeable participants in our democratic process. To be an informed participant, no matter how strongly they feel about the Bill – either for or against it – the decision is theirs and their decision should be respected.

To that extent I would like to thank Louisa Wall, Charles Chauvel and Asian Rainbow Community members especially David Do and Wai Ho for having their opinion pieces translated and published in the Asian media and having their voice heard. Because it is important that when, as a society, we make these far-reaching decisions, we also make sure that all the voices, and all the views, are heard in open dialogue.

Had I not followed such process and read some of the submissions from both sides, I would not be able to make up my mind now.

Secondly, we must look at how opinion on the marriage equality issue around the world is shifting quite rapidly at the moment.

Recently we have seen either voting in favour, or at least a major shift of opinion, in countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Ireland. Support in the United States has gone from 25 % in 1996 to 53 % today.

Just a few weeks ago, our former Speaker, The Right Honorable Dr Lockwood Smith, stated how much he now regretted voting against homosexual law reform. And the Prime Minister John Key was quoted as indirectly indicating that he regrets voting against civil unions – he says he was following his electorate, not his own views.

Do we want to be on the wrong side of history? I’ve found the following statement is very convincing:

In 15 years’ time, new voters especially will struggle to understand how their local MP voted against allowing their friends who are happily married, to get married. It may be a bit like an MP in 1908 explaining to female voters why they were against them having a vote in 1893!”

As MP Nikki Kaye said in the first reading that New Zealand has a proud history of leading in issues of equality and passing a piece of legislation like this one will strengthen the rights and freedoms of a significant group of New Zealanders.

And I was also encouraged by Dr Paul Hutchison. At the first reading he spoke of his initial reticence but finally said he had not constructed strong enough intellectual, moral, health or even spiritual arguments against it. In the end it boiled down to the premise that all New Zealanders should have the right to civil marriage, irrespective of race, sex or gender.

I want to thank Young Labour, Young National and representatives from all other parties in Parliament for their contributions. It is rare and unprecedented that youth representatives from all eight parties in Parliament had come together to show their support for marriage equality.

Thirdly I want to express my sincere respect to those who remain opposed to this Bill. I want to thank the 204 people who sent letters to me and hundreds of others who emailed me and those who spoke to me about their strong views on why this Bill should not proceed.

I respect their views, and they can be assured I weighed up the opposing views very carefully. I salute my Labour colleagues Sua William Sio, Ross Robertson and Damien O’Connor for their courage and determination. Isn’t that wonderful that we live in this beautiful country where colleagues and everyone can express their different views and agree to disagree. That’s what democracy is all about!

I have decided not to sit on the fence because I am convinced that the issue is about equality, justice and human rights. And supporting these values tips the balance in favour of the Bill.

To conclude, I would like to quote a UK MP, a Conservative MP Nick Herbert:

“Are the marriages of millions of straight people about to be threatened because a few thousand gay people are permitted to join? Will they say: ‘Darling our marriage is over, because Sir Elton John has just become engaged to David Furnish’?”

The answer is obviously no. Neither will the institution of marriage become redundant when Lynda Topp marries her fiancée, Donna Luxton. To the contrary, we should be offering them our congratulations because marriage is about love and commitment, and this is the basis of any successful marriage.

Young Labour Find Hamilton Roots

Posted by on January 21st, 2013

Yesterday Young Labour was in Hamilton West for the second leg of their Clarion Tour.

The Clarion tour is named after the famed Clarion Cycling Club, which consisted of a group of dedicated British political activists who rode around the English countryside in the 1890s talking about their vision for a better and fairer society.

Young Labour are following this tradition: travelling around New Zealand living out Labour values.

In Hamilton Young Labour and I went to the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park. We got out there and did what we call the “Pukeko stomp” where we release the newly planted native plants from the faster growing grass and weeds. It is an essential park of the community vision to provide both a home for Tui and a great location of community education and recreation.

Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park is the first step in the much needed restoration of native bush in the Waikato. From the 1820s European settlers began arriving in the area paving the way for the famous land clearances of the 1860s. It was clearing and draining of the land that gave the region much of the open pasture land we are renowned for today.

But it also destroyed all but 1% of the wetland once widespread in the region and meant native New Zealand birds were all but banished from Hamilton.

As with any story what struck Young Labour and I was how great community initiatives like Waiwhakareke are determined by abstract decisions about priorities. The Hamilton City Council lost millions of ratepayer’s money when it made the ill-fated decision 48 to bring the V8s to Hamilton. I fear it will be great initiatives like Waiwhakareke that may bear the brunt of Council attempts to recover that money. Pensioner housing units have already been sold off in a short-sighted attempt to reduce the city’s debt.

You can check out the other great community projects Young Labour are undertaking from West Auckland to Christchurch at

A note to those who supported VSM

Posted by on October 13th, 2011

Massey Unniversity has responded to the Voluntary Student Membership Act by increasing its fees next year by an amount about equivalent to that paid by students to their Student Associations.

Just to note:
– it seems like the fees are compulsory
– the government will have a big say on what the increase can be used for – not even the university
– it looks like students through their association may be able to negotiate with the university about what services are kept – but no guarantees
– it’s likely to be the model that will spread across NZ – I was in Waikato University yesterday and they are looking at something similar

So all those who backed VSM will still pay the same, but you won’t have any real say about how your money is spent – even less if you decide not to belong to the student association. Taxation without representation it’s called.

And now you don’t even get the choice of a referendum.
What was wrong with an opt-out clause and accountability around association spending as we suggested?

Well done. Everyone loses.

Labour’s Tertiary policy announced

Posted by on October 10th, 2011

We have just put out Labour’s tertiary policy. It follows on the big effort that we’ve made to lift skills in our workforce. No need to remind people that times are tough and it’s tough getting any new money. But I think we’ve got a pretty solid mix here that will make a difference.

The key aim is produce the best graduates we can – and keep them in NZ – to help us grow a smart, high-value economy.

The policy has some specifics targetting some of our smartest. It puts back the post-doctoral scholarships for scientists who finished their PhDs that was canned last year. This is critical for not only keeping our best here and giving them time to consolidate their studies, but bringing some of our best back. After all, we’ve already invested massively in these people.

We’ve also put additional funding aside for funding our very best where they are world beating. The ‘brilliant scientist’ concept is simple – give sufficient funding to our best scientists and academics to employ the staff they want, buy equipment they need and then let them get on with it. Smart people attract others – from around the world. Backing our best with resources will grow expertise in core areas where our talent is top shelf. And we DO have some fantastic talent. Those researchers will receive funds personally and are free to choose the NZ institution – or business – where they want to set up.

Other parts of the policy: we must maintain and raise the levels of our universities. Recent results show we are slipping in the world rankings and there’s little doubt that funding is a key part. We run universities that are some of the most efficient in the world, where an extra dollar can really make a difference. Our policy maintains our level by inflation proofing our universities and sets our commitment to increase it.

We need to maintain the affordability of our tertiary institutions so all NZers that reach the standard can access a high quality tertiary education, no matter what background they come from. There’s aspects in the policy here for that too, fixing tuition increases at 4% and restoring $2 million to the Training Incentive Allowance to give a lift to those who want to get a tertiary education – solo mums for example – to get some support. Remember this is the one that helped Paula Bennett before this government axed it.

And we’ve put back the money for adult and community education. Cutting $13.5 million and collapsing it was a travesty. More than 150,000 people no longer access night schools who once did. This is a no-brainer for people wanting to get back into learning.

Clarion Tour in Hamilton

Posted by on January 23rd, 2011
Half of the group painting the fence - the other half were inside doing other jobs.

Neil and I with half of the group painting the fence while the other half were inside doing different work.

On Tuesday night a van adorned with Labour stickers pulled up in Hamilton full of Young Labourites on their Clarion Tour. As Trevor and Grant said, they’re heading throughout the country (Orewa to Queenstown) doing community service. Some are on leave from work and others are on their Summer break from uni.

Point is, they’re doing good deeds and helping out the community groups that give so much to their local areas. These groups deserve the break and to know that we notice their efforts.

After a night of Sing Star (they let the local Labour MP win – good politics) we were at the Western Community Centre in Nawton. They painted fences, removed tagging and got items ready for the community noticeboard.

The Western Community Centre is an important fixture in Nawton. It’s a low socio-economic neighbourhood where families are struggling with extra GST costs, raised doctors fees and unaffordable increases in early childhood education fees.

I’ll have similar energy to Young Labour’s to win back Hamilton West because they need an MP and a Labour Government to stand up for them.

Thanks, Young Labour. I hear they were on the ferry to South Island this afternoon. You can follow them on facebook, twitter and at