This afternoon David Shearer gave a speech at the Hornby Workingman’s Club. It’s exactly the kind of speech I want to hear from the Labour leader, with plenty of substance to add weight to rhetoric. Here are some extracts:
Jobs that work for you
…When it comes to opportunities, it’s all about jobs. There is no challenge more urgent than addressing the lack of decent jobs available.
Jobs matter. And it’s not only about whether you’re earning enough to pay the bills. It’s because they say so much about you. Often, when you meet a person one of the first things you’ll find out about them is what they do for a crust. It’s more than just a weekly wage. It’s about recognising that what you choose to do with your life matters. It matters to you, your family and your community. It’s through your job that you’re able to realise your ambitions and give your kids a decent start in life. It’s a sense of identity and a source of dignity. …
Today, there are two paths in front of us.
One is the path we have been walking for the last four years. It’s a path that accepts second best as good enough. It’s one that manages NZ’s decline rather than builds a future. It’s a path in which Kiwis feel increasingly trapped – trapped in a job that doesn’t pay enough, trapped by unexpected bills, trapped by a lack of opportunity and a stagnant economy. Prices keep going up but for most New Zealanders wages aren’t keeping pace. Many of us worry about whether our kids will be ever able to buy a house. Instead we’re seeing them seek better opportunities in Australia.
This is National’s path – it’s a path to fewer jobs, lower wages and our kids living across the ditch. National’s attitude is that we just have to accept this future. But we are four years on from the start of the global financial crisis. New Zealand was not hit as hard as some other countries because we were well prepared. Labour ran 9 years of surpluses and paid off government debt. We brought unemployment to the lowest level in a generation. So NZ should be starting to turn the corner by now. Instead, things are getting tougher. …
I want to take New Zealand down a very different path. A pathway to a new economy that leads to a high wage, high skilled future. One that’s about being a confident, proud New Zealand. Not one that makes excuses for why we’re not doing well. It’s a path that recognises you can’t fix poverty without creating jobs. And you can’t solve growing inequality without decent jobs. It’s a path where government gets alongside workers, businesses and our heartland communities to help them grow. Where we are patriotic, trust in our ability to get ahead, and beat the odds, as we have done in the past. To succeed the government needs to be a partner, a player in the game. …
And here are the substantive policy promises:
We need to be bold and tackle the big issues holding our economy back. Our policies will ensure our high and volatile dollar doesn’t undermine the competitiveness of our exporters. We’ll give them the best possible opportunity to succeed.
We are a trading nation. We can only grow wealthy if we export. That means an independent Reserve Bank that’s given a wider mandate to support exporters and jobs, not just focus on inflation.
We’ll pursue pro-growth tax reform that includes a capital gains tax to take pressure off house prices and ensure people invest in businesses, not the Auckland property market.
And a research and development tax credit that rewards ingenuity and encourages innovation in our businesses.
We’ll expand KiwiSaver to ensure all New Zealanders have a retirement nest egg. But also to invest the money we save into our best businesses so they don’t get sold offshore.
We’ll make superannuation affordable for the long-term so we can guarantee NZ Super for all as well as invest in the future of education and health.
All of those policies are opposed by National. But they are needed. They are tough calls. As leader of the next government, I’m prepared to make them. …
We also need the Government to be patriotic – to make the most of the money it spends when it comes to creating. At the moment over 200 government agencies spend a total of $30 billion on goods and services, including infrastructure, each year. By changing the way government buys goods and services, we can create more opportunities for Kiwi businesses and young New Zealanders looking for a job. … Labour will require government agencies to do a wider economic analysis of major contracts to ensure they deliver the best price and quality as well as the maximum benefits of the NZ economy.
Labour will also introduce a ‘one in a million’ target for significant government contracts. It would require companies that are awarded major contracts to take on one apprentice or trainee for every $1 million contract it receives.
A start would be made in the construction sector and expanded into other sectors where it might also create opportunities for young Kiwis.
We’d also look at following Australia’s example and require tenderers to outline the use of NZ components and suppliers in every bid.
Excellent stuff from Shearer. Put this together with the joint summit on the manufacturing crisis, which saw the main opposition parties working together, and it’s obvious that we have a government in waiting. The change can not come soon enough…