I’d like to thank Lynn and the authors of the Standard for this opportunity to contribute a post here, where Labour members and the broader left come together online. The Standard is certainly one of the most respected political blogs and I am a regular reader.
I’m standing for the leadership of the Labour Party because we need to take New Zealand back from John Key and we need to build a fairer, more inclusive New Zealand.
I entered into politics because political power directly affects our lives. And, just like the first Labour Government did, the sixth Labour government will make life better for all of us.
I grew up in small town New Zealand, the son of a vicar and I know what it is like to do it hard.
New Zealand needs a united, progressive and transformative Labour Party. I’ve no doubt we have the talent in our caucus, and the strength in our affiliates, in our membership, and among our supporters, to turn New Zealand around and lead a Government we can be proud of. We just need to bring it all together.
The next election is critical for Labour and for New Zealand. We are at a turning point in history. The Global Financial Crisis and the Great Recession have busted the neoliberal consensus and exposed it for the dodgy pyramid scheme it always was.
Next year we will have the first chance in a generation for real change. Historically, at great junctures of New Zealand history, it’s Labour that has set the agenda for a generation. We are proud to be the party of big ideas.
The First Labour Government led us through the Great Depression and built the welfare state, ensuring housing, education, health, a decent job and social security for all. The fifth Labour Government respected this tradition but also took steps to start New Zealand on the long treck to sustainability. Climate change and resource depletion are issues that we have to act now to address. Continuing with the status quo is not an option.
The neoliberal project has run out of steam. Kiwis can see it offers no answers to the challenges they face. It hasn’t delivered jobs, it hasn’t delivered security, and it hasn’t delivered the prosperity it promised.
The next Labour Government must not be a continuity government. We need a transformative economic and environmental agenda and we need leadership with the vision and the credibility to see it through.
We must also have leadership that has proven it can stare down vested interests – because make no mistake, the beneficiaries of neoliberalism will not give up their privilege quietly.
My Labour stands for better future in this country. A better future, with well-paid jobs where people are respected and valued. A future that is full of opportunities for our kids; a good public education; housing; free health care and a secure retirement. A decent New Zealand.
And the Labour Government that I lead will drive full employment. Every New Zealander who is ready, willing and able to work will be in a job or training for one.
And these jobs will be well paid. As well as strengthening employment laws, I will introduce a living wage for all employees of Government agencies – and I will extend this policy over time to any business that seeks to win Government contracts.
The next Labour government will have a solid programme of economic development. We will use the state to lead economic development that creates good jobs for Kiwis and supports regional New Zealand.
And in doing so we will not compromise our beautiful environment and clean green image.
The alternative is listening to John Key and his government tell you that everything’s just fine. That we’re just around the corner from his brighter future. Just like he’s been promising for half a decade now – yes, it’s been that long. The truth is, under his government, doing things the way he does, it’s not going to get better. Not today, not tomorrow.
The truth is that we have a country that is undergoing massive change. Behind the Prime Minister’s empty promises, behind his PR stunts, and his carefully staged media appearances, behind all of the distractions and diversions and cant of this government there’s a much bigger truth. The truth of a few very wealthy elite getting richer and richer and the truth of the rest of us paying for it. And we’re paying, and paying, and paying.
But that’s not how it has to be. I believe that as the leader of the Labour party, a party made strong by all of you, we will make this nation a better place. I believe that together we will win.