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Labour conference 2013 – day one

Written By: - Date published: 9:24 am, November 1st, 2013 - 54 comments
Categories: labour, political parties, Politics - Tags:

Well I made it down to Christchurch to cover the Labour party conference for The Standard. While I’ll probably run out a few posts while I’m here, I figure that I’ll write a post per day for the more general discussion and impressions. Plus do that actual “blogging” of my experiences.

As usual I was running late to the airport after rushing out a new beta release for testing by others over the weekend. The testers get to go sailing. I get to listen to speeches. Oh lucky me. 🙂 But these days I have learnt, I fly Air New Zealand domestically because their staff don’t decamp to the exit portal and I can’t get a boarding pass at the counter.

Picked up the hire car at Christchurch and went to camp out for the next few days with relatives. This morning I braved the traffic (what traffic?) and headed to the old air force base at Wigram.

Now I’m drinking coffee eyeing up who is here for the sector group meetings. More to come later.

1405: The morning was a bit boring. As media I hung around the foyer rather than sitting in on any of the sector meetings. Interesting talking to people.

Now off into the economic workshop. This is the usual kind of workshop. Michael Wood is doing his usual uber-competent, polite, good-humoured and efficient job of going through the remits and amendments.

1445: I suspect that superannuation is going to be a hot topic at this conference. There is are several remits about the superannuation that are being debated in the conference today. One leaves the age of superannuation open, while the other fixes the value.

Excellent debate with quite varying points of view. David Parker as economics spokesperson, is looking at the numbers, in particular the rising age of average death, and the more general demographics shift. The question for him is about how to move forward.

I’m going to be interested in this since I’ve been irritated about the high unlikelyhood of my ever getting to superannuation since I was a teenager in the late 70s.

1500: Jenny Kirk should write a guest post about the her thoughts on how to handle super. David Clark pointing out that if Labour doesn’t have a plan then the Nats will force some dumbarse stupidity.

Looks like the workshop is voting towards leaving a lot of room for the caucus to find something that is sustainable in the future…

1530: The counterpoint to the question on super is the question of how to have the revenue required. There are some interesting remits on tax and questions on the minimum wage. Note to self that I have to get some time to talk to Peter Conway of the CTU to look at questions of the minimum wages.

1615: Some of the more interesting remits going through the workshop and being voted up and down. The overall trend is to make sure that they won’t get in the way of being elected.

1730: Now that is new. There is a rather large group of conference newbie delegates being instructed in how the conference operates. Damn good idea. Especially as the number of faces that are new to me has massively increased. I’ve been going to Labour conferences and congresses north and south for a number of decades and I can’t remember a conference that has quite so many newish faces.

1830: Been at the media briefing. What was interesting was how far the policy platform has proceeded after the review(s) of 2012. It is now an actual document of 61 pages (that I will find the electronic copy of) rather than being a frigging morass of barely coherent and largely self-contradictory remits. It is still too big. However my brief look through the hard copy shows it to be a hell of a lot more readable than anything I have read from Labour since they stopped producing big manifestos. I may have to start serializing bits of it for people to disagree with.

Oh and The Civilian got some sit-down time with David Cunliffe. I want to see the results for that 🙂

1850: One of the interesting topics that keeps coming up amongst many different sources today, inside and outside of conference is the concern about the low voting levels. When I get it from the non-political family, through the political people in the conference, and just now the local Maori elder Rick Tau (?) who just used part of his welcome to point out his concern about it. It really is time that the low voting levels in local and national elections is something that is now becoming a political issue.

1910: David Cunliffe speaking. Yikes. The membership of the Labour party has doubled over the last year. Good speech. I will see if there is a video. I particularly liked his line about not expecting everyone amongst the delegates to agree with everything on the platform – echoes our value here of agreeing to disagree.

1925: Poto Williams looks like a decent candidate. Lianne Dalziell is pretty damn popular here. I’m not surprised. The people in Christchurch I have met here, and the refugees in Auckland are longing for something to damn well be done. Lianne in my experience is bloody good at pushing. Poor Gerry Brownlee. And she is raising the low voter turnout as a major issue as well

54 comments on “Labour conference 2013 – day one ”

  1. Mac1 1

    Appreciate that. For those of us with work and other commitments who would love to be at Conference a daily update is very welcome. I hope it is fruitful, enjoyable and seminal in its setting up the Party, and New Zealand, for a sixth Labour government.

    • Likewise .For this old wrinklie it will be good the have a true unbiased report ,Instead of the biased right winged view from the Herald or Gower and Q&A. I look forward to it LPRENT.

    • Likewise .For this old wrinklie it will be good the have a true unbiased report ,Instead of the biased right winged view from the Herald or Gower and Q&A. I look forward to it LPRENT.

  2. Pete 2

    Any hashtags to follow on Twitter?

  3. Fappity 3


  4. millsy 4

    Apparently there is going to be a boost to state housing announced this weekend, and a raft of amendments protecting the sexual freedoms of consenting adults from the jackboot oppresion of the god-botherers.

    Looking good so far…

    • bad12 4.1

      Here’s hoping with regards ‘the boost’ to the States Housing portfolio, it’s long overdue as Government’s both Labour and National have ‘tinkered’ around the edges with changing existing housing,

      Insurance, electricity, have been shown to have failed the New Zealand people as capitalist industries and in that area of basic society and economy, Housing, the market model has failed spectacularly in the areas of most need, and it must now be obvious to anyone that had the State kept building at a pace that reflected the reality of the need in our major cities there would not have in the likes of Auckland been the rush into ‘rental investments’ by the monied middle class,(and thus the % of rising prices in that market would have been lessened),

      The core of my, and many other’s interest in politics is solely focused upon the ‘Bread and Butter’ basics of Housing and minimum incomes and Labour will only do it’self an electoral service by providing a robust Party Policy in these areas…

  5. Tracey 5

    I agree with debating remits in private and publicising the remit result. I just wish politicians wld learn that you win some you lose some. That you give your all to the debate and if it isnt the outcome you want you dont slyly leak shit. Play as a team on the pitch or court.

  6. karol 6

    Looks like Labour will be backing away from raising the super age to 67, though Parker pushed to keep include an opt back into it.

    • just saying 6.1

      The way the story read, the debate was around “what people might say” on both sides.

      I really hope Labour is able to finally move away from acting like a desperate teenager who wants everyone to like them. Never works, just leads to rigid conformity and arse-licking the powerful.

  7. Not a PS Staffer 7

    No drink to be had at the Conference venue in Wigram!

    No pub nearby!

    How can we call this a Party?

    • Will@Welly 7.1

      Get with the trend – just line up for a big group hug. You’ll feel better soon.

      • Anne 7.1.1

        Get with the trend – just line up for a big group hug.

        Oh God… spare me. Glad I’m not there. 🙂

        1Prent: Am interested in a comment or two re the different atmospheres of the two conferences – last year and this year. I remember arriving Fri. afternoon for last year’s conference and sensing something was going on. But it wasn’t until the Sunday night that it all became clear. I was incensed to the point of incoherence because it seemed to me there had been an attempt by a coterie of MPs to play delegates for a bunch of suckers. It drove me more firmly than ever into the Cunliffe camp, and I reckon I wasn’t the only delegate by a long shot who reacted in the same way. It’s behind us now I know, but I would still like to hear some of your reflections on the differences between them.

        • lprent

          It is a whole different feel. There are two differences. The irritation from trying to go in two different directions has diminished. And the focus is on the policy platform.

          Much nicer feel even on the first day. But cynic that I am… It was on the second day last time when everything I saw started to turn to crap. That was after the social that I skipped. So I amd at the social.

    • lprent 7.2

      agreed. Where is the nearest micro-brewery pub?

      I’m going to miss Galbraiths tonight.

  8. greywarbler 8

    lprent Enjoy!
    Taste Prenzel
    Cuisine: Bistro, Family, Breakfast, Cafe
    14 Henry Wigram Drive
    (Wigram Manor)
    Sockburn Christchurch City
    03 968 9611
    Mon 7.30am – 3pm
    Tues – Fri 7.30am – Late
    Sat – Sun 10.30am – Late

    Mini brewery
    The Twisted Hop
    7 Parkhouse Road
    (near junction with Hayton Rd)
    Wigram Canterbury8042
    (03) 9623688
    Business Hours
    11:30am – 10:00pm
    11:30am – 11:00pm
    11:30am – 11:00pm
    11:30am – 11:00pm
    11:30am – 12:00am
    11:30am – 12:00am

    • lprent 8.1

      Looks like the twisted hop has moved… Oh well bishopdale hell pizza and a bottle of wine to take home. Safer anyway.

      • greywarbler 8.1.1

        Like many businesses on the internet the twisted hop hasn’t updated their listings. They have had to relocate apparently. They brew in Parkhouse Road Wigram but are sold in various venues ie 616 Ferry Road Woolston, for one. This link tells you all about their brewing style – for the connosieur.

        • greywarbler

          There was one brewery in Sonter Street my son mentioned – found it. Don’t know if it’s good or not. Wigram Brewing
          34 Sonter Road Wigram
          Is off Hayton Road near intersection with Runway Road from the Museum area
          (Says free brewery tours)

  9. karol 9


    The Civilian ‏@TheCivilianNZ 8m

    Lianne Dalziel receives more applause than Cunliffe. Patrick Gower already circulating letter of no confidence #LabourConference2013

    Martyn Bradbury ‏@CitizenBomber 3m

    “We have 2 NZs, one for John Key and his rich and powerful mates and one for the rest of us’ #LabourConference2013

  10. greywarbler 10

    Patrick Gower sounds like a slimeball. What is his purpose – interfering in the democratic process.? Feminists used to deny entry to males who were more likely to diss them than women journalists. It certainly is worth considering keeping destructive people like Gower out. He is so twisted, he probably has trouble walking a straight line even when sober.

    If anyone signs that no confidence letter they will be very naive, to a destructive level, which is the more important point than whether they support Cunliffe or not. No-one should be providing fodder to these mosquitoes. Everyone should slap them with a red plastic flyswat if he comes to present his poisonous petition. He wouldn’t like it up him you know – slapped with a red flyswat. He would be a laughing stock.

    • karol 10.1

      grey – the Civilian, that tweeted that comment about Gower, is a satirical website – the vote of no confidence isn’t real.

      Mind you, Claire Trevett tweeted something similar but meaning it seriously.

      Claire Trevett ‏@CTrevettNZH 10m

      Parochial crowd – no standing ovation for Cunliffe, massive one for Lianne Dalziel. #LabourConference2013

      There’s another reason to give Dalziel a standing ovation.

      • Anne 10.1.1

        Parochial crowd – no standing ovation for Cunliffe, massive one for Lianne Dalziel.

        That was the delegates’ way of sending a resounding message of congratulations to Lianne Dalziel for having just won the ChCh mayoralty. David Cunliffe’s standing ovations are yet to come. Christ Almighty, do those MSM journos have no cognitive abilities?

        • RedBaronCV

          Given that only the most dedicated tend to turn out for local body elections can we assume that the Nats are in big trouble in Christchurch

        • lprent

          Pretty much my view. Labour activists are skeptics and they want to see victory first… And it is christchurch… And she already won

      • greywarbler 10.1.2

        Oh thanks karol – that’s the second time I have been caught out by The Civilian.
        Rhinocrates seems to think that Gower isn’t too far off the lampoon.

    • Rhinocrates 10.2

      Patrick Gower sounds like a slime ball.

      Rat Boy is a slime ball and The Sicilian (now why did I use that mondegreen?) is so good as satire because, like The Onion its posts look so much like the media it satirises. Satire is simply clear-sighted and moral honesty.

      Everything you say is correct.

      As karol says:

      Mind you, Claire Trevett tweeted something similar but meaning it seriously.


      There are many satirists and dystopians who comment on real events – Tom Lehrer and George Carlin come to mind, whose comments on real events boil down to, “Really, I couldn’t make this up”, or “If I made this up, people would say that I was using stupid stereotypes and cliches.”

      A writer I know who was brutalised by a cop was asked if he could exact revenge in print, but said no – the real person was so cardboard and so two-dimensional, that if he used them in a story, people would just laugh.

      The fact is, some people are – incredibly – even less than they seem to be – Gower and Hoots for example.

      Real life, alas, is bad art.

    • lprent 11.1

      Cool. The hardcopy looks good. Some posts from the electronic look like being worthwhile. Knowing the greens they will have one as well.

    • karol 11.2

      It does make some brief references to social security and returning it to it’s original aim.

      Labour wants to see all New Zealanders able to reach their potential knowing that if real hardship and tragedy happens, there will be real social security and a pathway to opportunities for them. Labour wants New Zealand to be a country where disadvantage is not produced and reproduced across generations. To break this cycle, Labour wants:
       healthy, affordable housing
       access to healthcare
       support for disability
       access to childcare and adequate time to spend with children
       equal educational opportunities moving from education into work
       a living income
       security of income in old age.
      Labour’s approach to social security developed out of a recognition that unexpected, undeserved things happen to working people, families, and the elderly that can cause serious disadvantage over generations. Workplace injury, sickness, crowded housing, and discrimination consistently affect some parts of society much more than others. Economic growth can create many new opportunities, but downturns in the economy have disproportionate effects on some groups.
      The first Labour government put social security in place to make sure that working people were supported with dignity and a basic regard for their capabilities and contributions. The basic principles and programmes that flow out of this commitment to social security remain at the core of our approach today, including:
       the provision of public health care and education
       support for older New Zealanders, parents, children, and families
       the security of a social safety net.

      Very limited on state housing though:

      Labour will continue to improve the quality of the state housing stock, and work with local councils, state social housing providers, developers, and community social housing providers to deliver a mix of affordable rental and privately owned houses—houses people want to live in, and in many cases are able to own.

      • bad12 11.2.1

        If that is the sum total of Labour’s State housing policy i would attach to it the epithet ‘Shamefull’,

        Affordable housing is at the heart of society and economy, such affordable housing has to include rental housing and if Labour is unprepared to support and boost the number of State Houses instead of ‘tinkering’ at the edges re-arranging the number of houses it now has then it is hardly as Cunliffe boasted a ‘red’ Labour Party it is simply a protection racket for the monied middle class who use the low waged working demographic to bolster that middle classes retirement income via paying the mortgage on their ‘rental investments’,

        i will happily be proved wrong and have to retract the above with a suitable side dish of humble pie, but building 10,000 houses for the middle class to own does not a Red Labour Party make…

  11. I’d like to respectfully suggest that the Labour Party (and all other parties) put their minds to investigating the arguably endemic waste of public money through ‘corporate welfare’ at both central and local government level?

    First – ‘open the books’, and ensure that the ‘devilish detail’ – the NAMES of the consultants and contractors, the scope, the term and the value of contracts are published in the relevant central and local government Annual Reports, so that they are available for public scrutiny.

    Second – then subject the use of private sector contractors to rigorous ‘cost-benefit’ analysis.

    If the following USA research is comparable here – arguably BILLION$ could be saved for ‘social’ welfare, by cutting out the contractors on ‘corporate’ welfare?

    Are you aware of POGO and the work they have been doing for over 30 years in the USA?


    “Our Work – Contract Oversight

    The use of contractors to provide services to the federal government has grown dramatically since the start of the last decade. According to USAspending.gov, in FY 2000 contract spending was approximately $200 billion, and in FY 2011 contract spending exceeded $535 billion, the majority of which was spent on services.

    POGO investigations have found that these contractor services cost almost two times more—and in the case of the Pentagon as much as six times more—what it would cost if the same work was performed by a federal employee.

    The move to “smaller government” by outsourcing work has in fact created an enormous shadow government of contractors that are largely or entirely dependent on taxpayers for their revenues.”


    How does the replacement of the in-house ‘bureaucracy’ by the outsourced ‘contractocracy’ (which has proven at USA Federal Government level to be TWICE as expensive) benefit the public majority, at central and local government level?

    FYI – this is what I wrote about this matter, back in November 2011 as an Independent candidate in the Epsom electorate:


    Hopefully, this may be of assistance to those who oppose the raising of the age of superannuation in New Zealand?

    Less money for ‘corporate’ welfare – should help free up more money for ‘social’ welfare?

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption/anti-privatisation Public Watchdog’
    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate


  12. Murray Olsen 13

    I can detect a hint of a sense of entitlement from some of the Labour supporters on this thread. I’d be a lot more optimistic if they thought more about giving the disenfranchised something to vote for rather than looking at the Greens to hand them votes. At the last election, I electorate voted Labour and gave my party vote to Mana. Unless there are some signs that Labour starts to see the Greens as serious partners, I’ll be electorate voting Green next time, unless they put up a really bad candidate. However, given their lack of Douglases, Prebbles, Goffs and the like, this seems unlikely.

    NAct have adapted to MMP by gaming it in a totally sleazy manner, but it seems Labour haven’t adapted to it much at all.

    • Tat Loo (CV) 13.1

      Labour still hasn’t yet developed a truly strategic approach to MMP nor MMP campaigning, although things are moving. the internal culture is such that these moves will have to be slow and deliberate. Perhaps too slow. Is quite likely for instance that the Greens will want several Cabinet positions. And it would be truly advantageous to see the end of the Maori Party as Tory turncoats. Perhaps all that talk happens at the upper echelons, but apart from Shane Jones firing a few shots off yesterday at the Mp, I’ve heard none of these issues even mentioned yet at Conference.

      National on the other hand just gets stuck in, does the math, and sells out wherever necessary without any hint of delicacy, and lets its supporters know exactly what they need to do, where, to play their part.

      • bad12 13.1.1

        Yes i think that as the larger ‘player’ Labour at some level, whether Party or Parliamentary, needs to get serious about ‘electoral arrangements’,

        There is a lot to be gained, like the Treasury Benches, in Labour starting an all party discussion with other parties of a like mind where the chances of boosting Governments of the LEFT can greatly be enhanced by co-operation rather than competition,

        As Tat points out, National with the utmost cynicism will happily make arrangements with the Devil himself to enhance their chances of retaining the Government side of the House and Labour needs to wake up and realize that taking the ‘moral high ground’ on such an issue does it and the ‘left’ no favors,

        There need be in my opinion the starting of a 3 way discussion initially with Labour, the Green Party and Mana about where they see give and take in various electorates…

  13. xtasy 14

    From Labour’s Policy Platform draft:

    “5.4 Instead of standing back and watching market forces create uncertainty and insecurity in people’s lives, Labour believes that opportunities need to be actively opened up for people through:

    * education and training
    * an accessible public health system
    * a social safety net, when necessary.

    5.5 For young and old, women and men, Labour’s social policy will ensure that adequate support is available when people have a genuine need. We will provide the active support to help people move on and get into (or back into) work, education, or stable family or living situations.”

    And –

    “5.14 Labour recognises that there are New Zealanders whose disability, illness, or age is such that they are not expected to be in paid work, and that these people have a right to dignity and security. People who are temporarily out of the work force should be supported and enabled to re-enter the labour market. We recognise the care of people as work, whether paid or unpaid.”

    Apart from much “general” talk, I read out of this that Labour have NO clear intention to reverse the welfare reforms that the Nats imposed on us beneficiaries. What is “genuine need”, as it can mean different things for different people? Perhaps more fairness will be applied in some ways, but there is no firm commitment to anything of substance.

    Particularly this sentence has me worried, as it seems to indicate more of the same WINZ and MSD have been pushing for under their Principal Health Advisor David Bratt, to get sick and disabled into work:

    “We will provide the active support to help people move on and get into (or back into) work, education, or stable family or living situations.”

    This may be “fine” for those that can work, but as Bratt was brought into the agenda under the last Labour led government (2007), I fear that they will keep on doing what Bennett and her Ministry have started in the form of outsourcing employment services for mentally ill and those with musculo-skeletal conditions, same as sole parents.

    No, dear Labourites, there is NO trust I have in this approach wrapped in general terminology. My vote will go elsewhere in 2014.

    I fear some in Labour need reminding, what is behind our “welfare” now:



    • Murray Olsen 14.1

      “5.4 Instead of standing back and watching market forces create uncertainty and insecurity in people’s lives, Labour believes that opportunities need to be actively opened up for people through:

      * education and training
      * an accessible public health system
      * a social safety net, when necessary.”

      This looks ominously like it leaves provision of jobs to the market and uses the state to smooth the pillows of the victims. On the surface, more of the privatisation of profits and nationalisation of the losses that we have seen so often, and another lesson in the limits of distributional socialism.

    • greywarbler 14.2

      There is a need to remain sceptical about Labour and welfare. They might still want to put social welfare into the too-hard basket, and then leave it on someone’s doorstep with a note about how they hope this babe will find a good home with someone else, as the owner can’t take care of it.

  14. bad12 15

    Not being one for compulsory anything BUT, with regards to the continual slide in the number of people voting in elections the dreaded compulsion would seem to be a logical means of turning more people out to vote…

  15. Ad 16

    The policy platform read like reams of social policy and stuff all on how to help more families get wealthier.

    Great for the wonks, few in the public will get it.

    Today better have some oomph to it – could hardly detect a pulse other than the drinking afterwards.

  16. bad12 17

    Welfare!!!, i agree with X on this, where does the Labour Party stand on the issue of Welfare, or are we all to expect the seeming ‘vows of silence’ to continue on this most important of issues,

    Will there be a policy that comes out of this Labour Party Conference on Welfare that yells long and loud that as the Government Labour will provide the economy and the employment which gives work to the unemployed, work to the disabled which takes into account disabilities, work to solo parents which takes account of their Duty and Needs as parents, and which yells long and loud that if as that Government Labour cannot re-arrange the economy to provide such work then Welfare will be paid as a RIGHT removing the sanctions and ‘Hoop jumping’ of the present repressive regime,

    We all have Rights and Responsibilities and it is the Responsibility of Government to provide an economy which provides employment configured in such a way so as to enable the benefit dependent with employment suited to their individual needs where those benefit dependent individuals can contribute to society,

    If any Government, especially a Government of the left, cannot provide such employment suited to the needs and responsibility to contribute to benefit dependent individuals then it is the Responsibility of that Government and the Right of those individuals to be paid a decent and fair benefit without fear of repression and undue removal of income with that Right enshrined in Law…

    • karol 17.1

      Agree bad that this is a key issue for me & I would like to see more than commitment at a general level – except, the issue is “social security” – “welfare” is for patronising backsliders (as has been the case with recent Labour governments).

      And increasing state housing?

      • bad12 17.1.1

        Lolz Karol, ‘welfare’, ‘social security’, to me it’s not the name of the sandwich that counts it’s what the sandwich contains that is of the most import,

        Here’s a simple policy that even a Labour Party might be able to,(if it were not acting solely as a protection racket for the middle class Landlords) be able to come to grips with,

        Boost the number of State Houses by 3000 every year while in office, target 1500 of the increased number of houses to beneficiaries and target 1500 of the increased number of houses at the low waged working families judged by application to be in the worst housing position…

        • Descendant Of Sssmith

          Add put in some security of tenure – if not for life at least a minimum 10 year review point with right to buy after that 10 years – gives people a chance to get on their feet.

  17. George D 18

    Let us know how the TPPA debate turns out will you Lynn?

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