The word is that John Key to attempt to avoid a year like the last one by front-footing 2013 with a high-profile policy announcement. Some expect it to be about the economy and jobs, I think it’ll be a smaller more symbolic move like food in low decile schools. But whatever it is the plan will be to reestablish them as having a plan because their lack of vision is developing into a widely held narrative.
But, as our own Labour grandee Mike Smith has pointed out, 2013 is also the year Labour develops its policies and that makes the 2013 conference a very important one for members who want to help shape the future of New Zealand (and let’s face it – that’s why most members of political parties are indeed members).
Having been to a few conferences in my time, one of the things that strikes me is that there tends to be a core of organised policy that comes down from the top and then a mish-mash of often smaller, less coherent, policies that comes from the membership organisation. That’s partly the result of LEC’s working in isolation and partly due to the fact there’s only one opportunity for the nationwide membership to come together each year – the conference itself. The result is that the policies pushed up by members tend to have to focus on single issue matters – it’s hard, for example for members to advocate for significant economic policies because very few such policies can exist in isolation from the rest of the manifesto.
I think that’s where The Standard could be of some use in that it offers a platform for members to suggest and test policy at a national level any time they want. With this in mind I’d like to suggest that over the next few months we have those discussions and perhaps even provide a manifesto page on the site where generally agreed policies can be placed for LECs to use as a resource to inform remits. I’d imagine, given the skills of the people who post and comment here, that we could even cost policies out (in a back of the envelope kind of a way). I also imagine that other smaller parties may be interested in such a resource.
I figure there are a few things I’d like to see such as a policy of building state houses (perhaps making a quarter of the 100,000 new houses state rentals), some kind of industry bargaining law (ideally an award), and a shift to make kiwi-saver compulsory in conjuncture with the provision of a state-fund as the default fund and greater provision for employer contributions (stepped to line up with Australia’s provisions by 2020). Oh, and decriminalisation of marijuana.
What are your policy priorities?
*note – I certainly don’t mean membership driven policies aren’t coherent in terms of Labour vision, rather they are not generally well integrated with other policies at a nuts and bolts level.