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Conference roundup

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, October 18th, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: labour, leadership, phil goff - Tags:

Labour’s conference in the weekend seems to have gone well, and been well received by the media. Phil Goff drew a line in the sand on foreign ownership of land, and picked himself up a new nick-name in the process:

The ‘Goff-father’ says ‘no’ to foreign ownership in NZ

The Labour Party wants to make it “virtually impossible” for foreigners to buy Kiwi farmland. The major new policy announced at its annual conference today would also clamp down on other big foreign investments in New Zealand.

Phil Goff opened up to the party faithful about closing the farm gate on foreign ownership. “No overseas person has the right to buy our land; it is a privilege – a privilege we have granted too easily,” he says.

I wrote yesterday about what I believe is the most significant policy announcement

Labour focuses on children

Labour deputy leader Annette King says the party will put children at the centre of social policy. … “The next Labour Government will put children at the centre of policy in areas including health, education, social development and housing,” Mrs King said. Labour sees a focus on children as the most effective way to reduce harm and costs in later life.

… and on Saturday about Labour proposing a definite time for New Zealand to become a republic:

Editorial: Goff right to call for debate on a republic

Hats off to the Labour Party leader, Phil Goff. In suggesting that New Zealanders should start talking about our country becoming a republic, he has gone where influential sitting politicians have feared to tread.

3 News describes “fighting talk” from Andrew Little:

Fighting talk from Labour president Andrew Little

Last weekend’s local government elections showed the mood of the country is changing and National can be defeated, Labour’s president Andrew Little told the party’s annual conference today. “The people have said more of the same is not enough,” he said. “There is a sense of unease across the country.”

Mr Little said the economy had slowed to a crawl, and the Government did not have policies that would create a single extra job. In a strong and well-received speech, he said Labour could win next year’s election and take at least seven electorate seats from National. …

He urged the conference to “get ready for the battle of 2011”, and said party leader Phil Goff was the man to lead Labour to victory.

The full text of Phil Goff’s keynote speech is on line here. The fans love it! Even Audrey Young is sensing the mood:

The conference is going extremely well. Unlike last year’s where the party pretended to have moved on but was still grieving over being rejected by voters, and having to admit errors, it is now genuinely looking forward.

It has started running really interesting conferences, getting along specialists to talks to workshops and encouraging genuine debate as part of its ongoing policy review.

A good conference.


30 comments on “Conference roundup”

  1. Was there any talk about climate policy?

    One good thing Labour did this year was opposing National’s plans for mining in National Parks, it was the first time John Key was forced to back down, national and bluegreens members quit the party over that piece of unpopular policy, and Gerry Brownlee was left out to dry.

    More of that please.

    • Bunji 1.1

      There was talk about climate policy – indeed in his speech Goff mentioned about National’s gutting of the ETS meaning that $110 billion was being paid for by taxpayers instead of polluters – but it wasn’t the main focus. There were some good sessions on water particularly actually.

  2. M 2

    ‘And that’s why one of the first things Labour will do in Government is scrap the 90-day fire at will law and restore fairness at work.’

    Phil, I salute you and so will any workers that have half a brain in their heads. National enacted the 90-day rule because most employers are completely useless at using the current legislation to deal with employee performance problems. Time after time most employers jump in with their size nines and any case they have against an employee ends up being procedurally flawed because they are woefully inept.

  3. The Chairman 3

    Labour’s new catch cry for the next election has become another Labour letdown.

    In a matter of months, Labour goes from owning our future to owning the majority share in our future.

  4. The conference was really uplifting and it is clear now that there will be a real debate over the next 12 months about what New Zealand’s economic direction should be.

    IMHO the most important sessions were the economic ones hosted by David Cunliffe where Selwyn Pellett, John Whalley, Ganesh Nana (a real New Zealander!) and Bernard Hickey spoke. These guys are not left wing revolutionaries! The message from each of them was clear however, NZ needs to manage its currency, private debt is a huge problem and the “free” market is not working.

    The “free” market has transformed from a device to efficiently distribute resources into a device designed to enrich the already wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. When Bernard Hickey makes a comment about how he was surprised that there were no “bankers heads on pikes” you know there is a change of opinion happening.

    It was all summed up by the perfect counter to Thatchers TINA (there is no alternative). The left wing carrying cry is TARA, there is a real alternative.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      TARA = There Are Real Alternatives.

      Labour have moved a bit to the Left. It would be nice to see them move a little more.

      • Bunji 4.1.1

        (otherwise it’d be TIARA)

        Agree that the economic/monetary policy was a main focus, but I’d add the child-centred social policy (cf Annette King’s speech) as also being at the heart of discussion. Less so the foreign ownership thing that seemed to be the main thing covered. But a lot of great stuff in many areas.

      • millsy 4.1.2

        I think they are mindful of the reaction in the media , especially in talkback.

        We make the Tea Partiers look like Bolsheviks sometimes

      • lprent 4.1.3

        “You can’t always get what you want (but you get what you need)”

        Political parties movement limits are as far as they feel that their constituency will allow. In a broad based party that usually isn’t particularly far or fast.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      Yep the Fabian sessions, and Hickey’s presentation, were simply awesome. Goodbye TINA, hello gorgeous TARA!!!

      Now, Labour party members have to get their head around some of these ideas, how they can be congruently married up with our social and community priorities and turned into a simple winning election platform. Lots of work to be done there.

      However I still do not know why the Government does not exercise its sovereign right to generate its own debt free currency, instead of letting the banks do it out of thin air by creating mountains of interest bearing debt.

      A Government issued dollar owes nothing to no one, does not create ongoing interest charges with its existence, and is thus able to act as a free medium for the lubrication of commerce and trade primarily benefitting the people not primarily benefitting the banks.

      Draco – these are monumental changes Labour have announced. They represent a huge shift in mindset and an agility from caucus we haven’t seen since Labour lost in ’08. Its a frankly stunning answer to long standing charges that Labour and National ‘are basically the same’. Sure there is more work to be done but the journey has started.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        I suppose “monumental” might describe it – they’ve moved from slightly right to slightly left. They aren’t quite as left as the Greens yet but it’s certainly better than them being slightly right.

        I think such a move will resonate well within the populace.

      • Lats 4.2.2

        However I still do not know why the Government does not exercise its sovereign right to generate its own debt free currency, instead of letting the banks do it out of thin air by creating mountains of interest bearing debt.

        It sounds like you are suggesting the govt just print a whole bunch more money. Now I’m no economist, but wouldn’t doing that just devalue the $NZ? Thats a good thing for exporters I suppose, but not so good for importers. It would in theory lead to increased prices for any imported goods (petrol, electronics, etc) and I suspect the nett result would be a rise in CPI and inflation. The last thing the people need is for prices to rise even more.

        I’m not sure which is worse, burdening us with ever more debt and interest, or massively devaluing our currency and the flow on effects that will bring about. But I’d be more than happy if someone with a better grasp of economics would touch on this….

        A better option in my opinion would be a return to the more fiscally prudent policies exercised by the Clark government. We were never really in a position to afford tax cuts, and it was nothing more than a cynical vote grabber for the Nats. Sadly a lot of people were sucked in by it.

        • Draco T Bastard

          It sounds like you are suggesting the govt just print a whole bunch more money.

          Kinda. It’s offset by the taxes that the government imposes. In reality, it’s exactly what happens now with the Fractional Reserve Banking system but it doesn’t have the interest component that turns the Fractional Reserve Banking system into a Ponzi Scheme.

          It would in theory lead to increased prices for any imported goods (petrol, electronics, etc)

          Which could lead to more of those things being made here which would develop the economy.

          The last thing the people need is for prices to rise even more.

          What the people need is a developing economy that’s not stuck in a 19th century farming mode. Absolute necessities shouldn’t raise either as we produce them here (although I’m sure that the farmers would probably put their prices up anyway – it’s what they always seem to do).

          A better option in my opinion would be a return to the more fiscally prudent policies exercised by the Clark government.

          The Clark government may have been prudent but they also stayed stuck to the failed neo-liberal economic paradigm that caused the GFC.

          • Lats

            Kinda. It’s offset by the taxes that the government imposes.

            Ahh, so more tax, not print more money? That makes somewhat more sense, I was worried about impact of flooding the market with new $$$. I never thought we should have cut taxes in the first place, not if it meant increasing borrowing to cover it.

            Which could lead to more of those things being made here which would develop the economy.

            Well we don’t seem to have the oil reserves to make our own petrol, and even if we did I understand that it still has to be bought through the international market, which uses $US. So if our currency gets devalued we still end up paying a lot more for oil. I can see your argument for other consumer goods, but even with a devalued dollar I doubt we’d be able to match the economies of scale and efficiencies in SE asian countries. For a start we pay our workers a minimum wage, we can’t match the sweatshops for cheap labour, despite the Nats best efforts.

            Absolute necessities shouldn’t raise either as we produce them here (although I’m sure that the farmers would probably put their prices up anyway – it’s what they always seem to do).

            Again, despite our agricultural prowess we still import certain staples. With the increase in dairy conversions the grain bowl that was Canterbury is no longer producing enough wheat to satisfy our demands, so flour producers are having to import grain from Australia. I also think it might be a tad unfair on farmers to say they are the ones putting their prices up, I suspect it is the middlemen that are taking the cream off the top on the way to the supermarket. My dad was a farmer, and while we never went hungry we were never rich either, his only input into the price of his stock was to sell to the best bidder. He couldn’t just decide to sell for more, the buyers would go to someone who was prepared to sell for less.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Ahh, so more tax, not print more money?

              The idea would be to print about the same amount, or possibly less, of money as is presently printed by banks. This would keep the NZ$ about the same as far as quantity value is concerned. The difference is from the lack of interest rates which would mean that more value would be kept in the NZ economy benefiting our society rather than going offshore.

              …I doubt we’d be able to match the economies of scale and efficiencies in SE asian countries.

              Economies of scale don’t apply due to factories running close to the same efficiency no matter their size. They’re designed to run as efficiently as possible after all. Wages are something we can’t compete with though but, then, why would we want to?

              With the increase in dairy conversions the grain bowl that was Canterbury is no longer producing enough wheat to satisfy our demands, so flour producers are having to import grain from Australia.

              And that needs to be addressed as well – Canterbury can’t support the cows that it has already and the farmers and their pet government want to increase the herds.

              He couldn’t just decide to sell for more, the buyers would go to someone who was prepared to sell for less.

              I know how it’s supposed to work but why is it then that prices for NZ produce are more expensive in NZ than overseas? There is something wrong there.

    • Don’t you mean TIARA Mickey?

      Perhaps not; a bejewelled head-dress worn by a Queen wouldn’t really fit with Andrew Little’s calls for a Republic now, would it 😉

      • mickysavage 4.3.1

        Ha I2.

        Actually on reflection it was There Are Real Alternatives, thanks Draco.

        No need for a Tiara!

        Roll on the revolution (or is that evolution?)

  5. TightyRighty 5

    So the repeaters are useful sometimes. Repeating the lies and the false promises of the left. It’s about the only time they aren’t met with derision by the commentors on this site.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      The lies and false promises come from NACT who are only there to enrich themselves and their rich mates at everyone else’s expense.

    • bbfloyd 5.2

      is it getting stuffy in the closet TR? that was smaller than usual… weight of reality starting to suffocate?

  6. roger nome 6

    TR – your cruising name is too obvious for a repressed/closet rightist.. Try something more subtle like – “Master-Slave, Fire at Will”. What do you think?

  7. Workingman 7

    Some good stuff from Labour during the conference, but a win next year still seems unlikely given the enduring popularity of smile and wave Key. But have faith, the puppet show will end one day. Hopefully Key’s second term will be hamstrung by ACT’s self destruction and he’ll have to rely on the Maori Party, which will annoy the heck out of the rednecks. I say give Andrew Little a shot at the leadership sometime after the election. Cunliffe is too smug and he won’t resonate well with working New Zealanders. Shane Jones has no show after porngate.

    • bbfloyd 7.1

      very good exposition of apathy W. i could almost believe you are attempting to masquerade as left leaning… just a small point… assumption doesn’t actually have any weight when stacked up against reality. and the volume of assumption you put forward would float a zeppelin.

  8. Brokenback 8

    “TARA = There Are Real Alternatives.

    Labour have moved a bit to the Left. It would be nice to see them move a little more.”

    Not possible with the Goff/king “backbone” cabal.

    Very little in the way of historical perspective is raised about the philosophy and history of the current leadership.
    Goff & King were rogernomes & have remained confirmed drys ever since.

    There are suggestions they played a significant role in forming the Dunne/NZF coalition in the aftermarth of the 2005 election that denied South Auckland of its just rewards and almost certainnly paved the way for the 2008 ‘defeat’.

    I’ll never vote labor whilst chameleons & sychophants of their ilk have any role except warming the bench at the nervous end of the Party List.

    And I’m not the only one.

    • Bored 8.1

      Well said Brokenback, my take from the Conference as reported here is that there is some movement left but not nearly enough. Its a “lets not frighten the horses” approach, lacking in ambition probably for the reasons you stated, i.e the continued reverence given to the precepts of Rogernomics and attendant personnel. What will happen I predict is that National will pit their show pony (Key) in an image based contest with Goff. Key wins that every time.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        They’ve still got time to move further as the year progresses but, I agree, that they’re still hanging on to the neo-liberal paradigm. It’s obvious that we don’t actually need to import capital (money) to do anything in NZ when most FDI just doesn’t come with anything new anyway or even just to buy up what our entrepreneurs have developed. Either way is taking the wealth away and not giving any back.

        What will happen I predict is that National will pit their show pony (Key) in an image based contest with Goff. Key wins that every time.

        I don’t think image is going to it this time.

      • millsy 8.1.2

        A ‘let’s not frighten the horses’ strategy is nessesary at this stage. There will be plenty of time for any further moves to the left, or actual policy in the coming months.

        Remember: Neo-liberalism holds all the aces at the moment, and Labour is going to be expecting wave after wave of attacks from the Establishment. The farmers, and businesses have opened their salvo, following a nasty bit of mind gaming from Gordo Gekko-lite this morning, and I firmly expect the right wing Dom-Post, The Press and The New Zealand Herald to launch their attacks with a cluster of editorials condeming the Labour Party’s stance on foreign ownership tomorrow morning. I can probably predict word for word what Granny’s editorial will be tomorrow.

        To be honest, I think we are going to have one hell of a scrap in the next 12 to 18 months. No quarter is going to be given or asked for.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    You guys and girls want Labour to go more Left? Well firstly recognise the huge step change the weekend has brought to Labour. Think about the shit fights which must still be in progess around the details internally. Then figure out who in the party and who in the caucus backed this step change and support them in pushing for more, much more. Help them and policy council come up with solutions to implementation issues and ideas to manage risks of going further Left, and of going more progressive. Support the Fabians and ask that they push push push. Talk to Labour party members and ask that they push push push.

    And recognise that if this is how far Labour has been able to come in the two short years since Clark and Cullen left, in just two short years being led by Goff, imagine where Labour could be in two more short years.

    But for gawdsakes don’t mill around saying “yeah, sorta mediocre OK, however they’re just being gutless as per usual”. Capital controls, binning the reserve bank act and putting the hammer down on foreign investment WHILE refocusing on the children of NZ, thats a pretty damn fine start. But yeah I agree, its just a start. A real Progressive Enterprise is going to be an enormously hard and demanding three, four term agenda.

    We’ve come a long way from no GST on fruits and vegetables, people.

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