Video and speech from the Palmerston North meet the candidates meeting
Tēnā koutou katoa.
Good evening everybody. My name is Andrew Little and I want to begin first of all by thanking you all. This has been a pretty tough year, for us a hard year and in the end a pretty disappointing result for us.
But it is a testament to your dedication and commitment and to the spirit of this great party that so soon after that election and the events of election night you are prepared to turn out to be part of this very important democratic process for this great party. So thank you for doing that because this is important as my fellow leadership contenders have pointed out.
New Zealand’s values are Labour values. They are the values of looking after each other, doing things together, solidarity you might say. Making sure that no one is left out and no one is left behind. That is what we stand for, that is what we have always stood for.
The truth about New Zealand today is that growing numbers are being left out and are being left behind.
We have a quarter of a million children living in poverty, living below the poverty line. Turning up to school with empty bellies, and not being able to learn. They are being left behind. And we have situations in our workplaces now where growing numbers of working people are dependant on multiple jobs, part time jobs, low paid jobs, insecure jobs, just to make ends meet. They are being left behind.
This is not the New Zealand that we ever expected and nor is it the New Zealand that we should accept and tolerate.
And we have another major challenge as well that we are about to face and this is about the future world of work. Technology is rapidly going to change the nature of work, the availability of work, and what people do.
And if we are to confront that challenge as well as the ones that we have right now then we need a Government that takes work seriously.
It sits at the centre of so much of what people do. The way people earn and whether or not people earn determines whether or not people can fulfil their dreams and their ambitions.
But for so many people they do not even have dreams any more. Young people on reasonably good incomes who no longer aspire to owning their homes because it is just so far out of reach. That’s the New Zealand we have got today.
There is only one political party in our political system that takes these issues seriously and actually works to ensure that people do get ahead, that they don’t get left behind, and that they don’t get left out. And that is the New Zealand Labour Party, our party. The party we worked so hard for this election, and the last election and the election before that.
And the truth is, we are not getting elected, we are not in government. And because we are not in government we will not see those issues being properly addressed.
But if we want to be in Government the reality is that after three successive defeats and a still declining vote we have to make change. We have to get our house into order. We have to fix the machine. Because it is not working.
There are two areas we need to address soon. The first is about caucus’ cohesion. We need to be communicating effectively and acting cohesively.
The other is about the party. We need the party organisation to be the best it possibly can. We need a party organisation where all parts of it, the voluntary part and the paid part are talking to each other and effectively. Because we need to run a good party vote campaign in a way that we have not done in the past few elections.
And we need to harness the great resource and capability that are our affiliates. Thirty or forty thousand working people are our affiliates. But we don’t use them in a way that we could if we were an effective machine and an effective operation.
I am standing for the Labour Party Leadership for two principal reasons. Firstly I have led significant change in a large organisation. When I took over at the EPMU, our largest private sector union, we were an organisation in three parts. Some people were not talking to each other. The organisation was not coordinated. People just went off and did what they liked.
I made the organisation one organisation. I gave it a single purpose that it organised to and worked under. And I turned it into a high impact organisation.
I nurtured the talent that we had and I brought in new talent. And I made it an organisation that was the envy of the Labour Movement and indeed of many others.
So I have done change.
The second reason I am seeking the Labour Party leadership is because of what drives me. What has driven me in every job that I have had as a lawyer as a Union Leader and as an MP.
It is about justice. In fact it is about injustice. I cannot stand injustice. And when I talk about injustice I am talking about when the powerful take advantage of the weak. And we have a society and a country where increasingly we are allowing the powerful to take advantage of the weak, the economically powerful, the privileged taking advantage of those who don’t have that privilege and that power.
And it sticks in my craw and it is wrong and it is against every Labour principle that we all know.
And so I want to take that drive and my energy and turn Labour around and give it the same unifying single purpose the way that I did with the EPMU and give it to the Labour Party.
To nurture the talent and lets face it we have great talent in our caucus. You only had to see those maiden speeches yesterday and seem y caucus colleagues to know that we have a huge depth of talent and use that to take us forward.
We have to regain New Zealand’s trust. And we will do that when we are talking about New Zealanders’ issues, when we are standing alongside them helping them fulfil their ambitions. When we are talking about not just what is wrong but also what is right. If we want to fix child poverty, if we want to address the future world of work and the major challenges that brings to us we need to be in Government.
We need a leader to bring us there. I am that leader.
If other leadership candidates want to have speech transcripts and video posted drop us a line.