I’d like to say thanks to the Standard for hosting me today. I’ve always enjoyed robust political meetings and I’m a firm believer in fronting up and answering the hard questions.
Labour is a great party. Our movement’s values are values that New Zealanders share – we’re a party and a nation that believes deeply in everyone getting a fair go and working together.
But make no mistake, to beat National in 2017 we need to build a united Labour team: not just within caucus but between caucus, the party, our affiliates, and our supporters.
We need to listen to New Zealanders, to engage with their issues. To campaign alongside New Zealanders as equals and to grow our allies and our support.
That’s something I have a lot of experience in. As the leader of the EPMU for 11 years, I undertook a careful and strategic reshaping of the union to turn it into a campaigning organisation that engaged powerfully with the public on the big issues – better wages, more jobs, and economic and social justice. I also engaged constructively with many New Zealand businesses, big and small and understand the need for a positive environment to generate jobs and pay good wages.
Labour needs a cohesive and inclusive plan to rebuild our movement and restore New Zealanders’ trust in us. We’ve always been the party that puts people first and takes the long view. It’s time to make those principles the core of how we organise ourselves.
I’m going to release a more thorough outline of my plans for rebuilding our movement in the near future but I have made it clear that one part of that will be renewing our policy.
We have great policies, but there are a lot of them, many are complex and we didn’t communicate them well to New Zealanders. We must review and simplify without losing sight of our vision and values. This is the debate we must have as a party and as a movement.
I have real concerns about our policy to raise the age of superannuation. Too many Kiwis already work long hours for not enough pay. It is unfair to ask them to work two more years.
We must also never lose sight of the fact that Parliament is just one part of a much broader Labour movement. Our members, our supporters, and our affiliates are everyday New Zealanders from all walks of life and from communities across the country and have valuable talents and experience. We must work to bring our movement back together and grow it.
Labour’s power has always been in its people. We need to unify and focus that power and together we must use it to make sure every Kiwi gets a fair go. Being a modern and democratic movement is how we win.