Andrew Little versus kaupapa Maori

Andrew Little stirred up Maori politics yesterday with comments on RNZ that slammed the Maori Party. There was a significant reaction via media and on Twitter.

RNZ: Māori Party ‘not kaupapa Māori’ – Andrew Little

Labour leader Andrew Little claims the Māori Party is not kaupapa Māori after hitching its wagon to National, as a new deal between the Māori parties is signed.

Speaking to Morning Report today, Mr Little said the Māori Party hitched its wagon to National, but nothing had changed in terms of Māori over-representation in prisons and unemployment – so it had no influence over National.

He said they had conceded on every important issue.

“In the end, what it comes down to is – how do Māori have the strongest voice? Not just in Parliament, but in government. At the moment it comes through the Māori Party, which is two MPs tacked on to a National Party that doesn’t need to listen to them on anything if it doesn’t wish to. It’s all grace and favour stuff.”

He said Mana’s Hone Harawira was all over the show, and in and out of different waka all the time.

That’s a bit ironic. Harawira responded on RNZ:

Mr Harawira said the Labour leader’s comments about his deal with the Māori Party were inappropriate and quite nasty.

He told Morning Report he found it quite astounding how arrogant Labour leaders could be when talking about what Māori needed.

“I think what Māori really need is to not have white guys like Andrew Little telling us what to do, and what our aspirations should be. Mana has always been clearly its own independent organisation.”

A Maori Party founder and ex leader Pita Sharples later also responded – RNZ Labour leader ‘should be ashamed’- Sir Pita:

Sir Pita  said the Māori Party’s focus was solely a Māori one, and said he was “totally insulted” by Mr Little’s comments.

“It’s that kind of using made-up phrases like that to denigrate the authenticity of Māori that really does the damage in race relations. He should be ashamed of himself.”

Sir Pita co-led the Māori Party from 2004 through to 2013, and said he was baffled by Mr Little’s claims.

“We champion and build kura kaupapa Māori schools highschools, wharekura run reo Māori language programmes and work by hui in marae and always have mihimihi, (greetings) so I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

More from Stuff:  Political attacks are in full swing as Labour and the Maori Party go head-to-head for the Maori seats

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says…

“He is the worst example of someone who understands Maori and relationship agreements and how to work with other parties for that matter.”

She said the party is divided over Little’s decision to bring high-profile broadcaster Willie Jackson into the party and he’s been dishonest about whether Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare was asked to stand aside in his electorate.

“What’s obvious is there’s disquiet amongst the Maori MPs,” says Fox.

Little:

Little went on to say the Maori MPs in Labour were “fearful” of a high spot on the party list because “they don’t want to give the impression they’re being held up by belts and braces”.

He said Labour’s Maori MPs were advocating for low-list places – it’s widely speculated Jackson, who is running on the list, will receive a high placing.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, who will have a fight against Mana leader Hone Harawira for the seat after an agreement between Mana and the Maori Party to give Harawira a clear run, said Little was right and it was about getting more Maori in Parliament.

He said sitting Maori MPs were prepared to sacrifice a high list place in order to get more MPs, such as former TV presenter Tamati Coffey and Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime, in to Parliament.

“It’s the risk we’re prepared to take,’ he said.

Unless Labour improves it’s support then list placings will be of little use. Winning an electorate is all important for Labour MPs.

It’s not just politicians who have piled into Little for his comments.


Sparrowhawk/KāreareaAndrew Little and the Māori lightbulb moment

It was a great question from Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson to the leader of the Labour Party, Andrew Little.

Ok…the Labour vote is high in those Māori seats, but isn’t there a hunger from the voters in those seats for an electorate MP who is from a kaupapa Māori party?

It was a great question for two reasons (in my mind)..firstly, the fact that Susie knew what a kaupapa Māori party was, and was comfortable with the nomenclature. Props. Secondly, the answer to that question showed Little lacks a useful understanding of Māori thinking. It was a kind of lightbulb moment in reverse: he showed us he had no idea where the switch is, let alone the bulb, that could illuminate Māori politics for any of us.

[Little] Well, the Māori Party is not kaupapa Māori. We know that, it has conceded on every important issue affecting Māori in the last nine years.

[Ferguson]: They would probably take issue with that!

[Little] Well in the end, what it comes down to is: how do Māori have the strongest voice, not just in Parliament but in government. At the moment it comes through the Māori Party which is two MPs tacked on to the National Party that doesn’t need to listen to them on anything if it doesn’t wish to.

Oh boy. we have the Leader of the Opposition telling us what is and isn’t kaupapa Māori. I don’t really mind any Pākehā person voicing an opinion about things Māori. So the fact that Little is Pākehā doesn’t gall me. What galls me is that he has pronounced grandly upon something he doesn’t understand. As can be seen above he has given us a definition of kaupapa Māori.

Extrapolating from his words above we now know that a political party can only be kaupapa Māori if it wins battles in Parliament on every important issue affecting Māori.

And then he seems to contradict his own statement by saying the Māori Party provides the strongest Māori voice in Parliament (albeit from the beat up Vauxhall being towed behind the big blue bus).

Way to build up your own Māori MPs, Andrew, by conceding they don’t have the strongest voice already.

I’ll leave it to others to defend the Māori Party’s own record. That is not my focus; my focus is instead Little’s apparent ignorance of Māori and Māori modes of thought and action.

So what do we now know of kaupapa Māori in the wake of the Little interview?

  1. No Māori affiliated with the National Party can ever claim to come from a base of Kaupapa Māori
  2. Kaupapa Māori can only ever be measured in terms of policy victories
  3. Kaupapa Māori can only ever be measured in the strength of the loudest voice proclaiming it.
  4. Kaupapa Māori can only be exercised in regards to issues directly affecting Māori.

On this definition, neither the Māori Party nor the Mana Party nor Sir Āpirana Ngata could ever be accused of employing kaupapa Māori.

Little has provided a handy rallying cry for those who would seek to undermine the Labour Māori vote. I am sure his own Māori candidates, MPS and membership will not thank him for disparaging the Māori Party in this way when they find themselves having to defend a leader who has commandeered the Māori language and insulted Māori politicians and voters in such a cavalier way.


Little seems to be struggling with dealing with Maori issues, as well as going on the attack in trying to protect Labour’s Maori seats.

He has indicated he has no interest in talking to the Maori Party about coalition arrangements.

Something missing here

‘Mickysavage’ has an odd post at The Standard: John Key – Mr 2%

One of the more interesting aspects of last night’s Colmar Brunton poll was the decline of support for John Key as preferred Prime Minister to 2%.  Jacinda Ardern is polling at twice that level.

Support for Bill English has surged.  But National strategists should be worried about this.  English is no Key.  In real life he is rather non descript and not very exciting.  He will not dominate the media in the way that John Key has.

I didn’t even think about what Key might have got because he has stepped down as Prime Minister and will be leaving Parliament soon. Why would even 2% who voted for him as ‘preferred Prime Minister’ when he prefers to be out of politics?

But there are not one but two interesting omissions from the post – Andrew Little and Winston Peters.

As nondescript and unexciting as Bill English may be he went from 0% in the last two polls up to 31%, most of what Key got in the last poll.

And Little dropped from 8% to 7%, with Peters staying on 8%.

While Labourites may be relishing the chance, at last, to savage Key on a poll result it is of no consequence.

How Andrew Little shapes up against Bill English will largely determine the outcome of this year’s election.

I asked an ex-pat Kiwi in Australia last week (someone who keeps an eye on news here and votes in NZ elections) what they thought of Andrew Little. They hadn’t heard if him.

There’s not just something missing from the poll post at The Standard, there is something missing from Labour.

Sealing of Pike River mine will be stopped

The Government has changed tack on Pike River re-entry, citing new robot technology that will make it safer to go into the mine, and will stop the sealing of the mine.

Stuff: Sealing of Pike River mine will be stopped, says Bill English

Pike River families have been told the sealing of the mine will be stopped following a meeting with Prime Minister Bill English, with Solid Energy asked to look into new technology which could allow unmanned entry.

Family members of the Pike River miners met English for the first time in an attempt to stop the sealing of the mine, and emerged afterwards with cautious optimism about the options on the table.

Some family members of Pike River victims have been campaigning for re-entry, some haven’t.

Bernie Monk, spokesman for some of the Pike River families, said the meeting was “very positive”.

“We’ve got another step forward for us…I think they got a lot of understanding about the ins and outs, because it’s not easy for them to understand what we’ve been through over the last six years.”

Monk said English’s promise to stop the sealing of the mine would allow the group to end its picket at Pike River, which had been going on 24 hours a day for 13 weeks.

Forster said English had stated the Government’s continued opposition to any humans re-entering the drift, but shared a a “clear expectation” that non-manned technology, such as aerial drones, should be considered as an option.

‘Aerial drones’ in a mine sounds funny but they could be flown up the shaft.

English said a decision to re-enter the mine was “not about politics, it is about safety”.

In an election year with families pushing hard and parties, particularly Labour and NZ First, making a political issue out of it, then it’s hard to separate some of the politics.

“We lost 29 lives in that mine and I will not risk losing any more.”

The families’ proposal for re-entering Pike River did not include a detailed plan, “and therefore does not make the case for a safe re-entry”, he said.

However, he would ask Solid Energy to stop work on the mine’s permanent seal and explore options for unmanned entry, after the Government was approached in recent weeks by experts with new proposals.

“The families’ technical advisor agreed that there has been significant advancements in technology since the tragedy occurred six years ago.

“We will ask Solid Energy to explore those options. We will also keep the families informed and allow their technical input into the search for options for unmanned entry.”

The Government would give Solid Energy money to look into the unmanned options, English said.

If drones are used they could look but it’s unlikely they could remove bodies.

Several robot vehicles have already been sent into the mine and have failed (broken down).

Labour leader Andrew Little said stopping the sealing of the mine was “the right thing at this stage”, but questioned why the Government continued to rule out a physical re-entry.

“We’ve got to keep the pressure up…because it must still be possible to get in there and see what remains are in there.”

There is one thing worse than not doing anything about re-entry in election year and that would be sending people into the mine and losing more lives.

Labour MP calculator

Here is a Labour MP calculator:

You can use this calculator to simulate the makeup of the NZ Labour caucus post election 2017 depending on various outcomes.

You can tick electorates you think Labour will win (it has most candidates up to date) and enter the percentage of party vote you think they will get. It will then tell you how many list MPS they will get, which is not many at the last election level of 25.13% (4-5).

With Andrew Little and Annette King (if she stands and remains deputy leader) guaranteed top list positions, and with a majority of men of 2-3 likely to hold electorates the top of the list will need to stacked with women to achieve Labour’s aim of gender parity.

This makes it awkward with senior MPs David Parker and Trevor Mallard probably keen on high list places.

With the likely electorate results Labour would need to get about 22% of the vote to ensure Little gets in on the list, and about 23% for King to get in.

 

 

Confidence issue for Andrew Little

Audrey Young suggests that Labour’s treatment of Willie Jackson has become a confidence issue for leader Andrew Little

Rating the start to the political year, Bill English scores 8 out of 10; Andrew Little 2.

Little started higher, after his state of the nation speech, held jointly with the Greens.

He spruced himself up, and delivered a good speech at an event that went off flawlessly as a piece of political theatre to show a sense of cohesion on the centre-left.

But the rebellion over Willie Jackson has damaged Little and Labour in a way that won’t blow over in a week.

Little’s greatest accomplishment as leader – successfully instilling the need for party discipline – counted for nothing, and the chips weren’t even down.

The rebellion has three consequences: after all that hard work, Labour again looks like a party divided, Little looks like a leader who cannot lead his own party – which is all the more damaging when his attack line against English this year is that he is a prime minister but not a leader…

That was always going to be a risk attack line by Little.

Little and his advisers were shocked by the rebellion. They knew some people would be unhappy. But they expected it to be dealt with in private.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise there would be publicly expressed unhappiness, but MP Poto Williams triggering the furore shows that potentially the Labour caucus is a disaster waiting to happen without strong leadership, not the strong-arm leadership Little tried with his promotion of Jackson.

This has rocked confidence in Little’s ability to up his and Labour’s game this year.

National launches, Labour squabbles

Tracy Watkins compares the National and Labour starts to election year in National takes the inside running as Labour hobbles election-year start.

Two things happened after Bill English named the election date that should worry his opponents.

National used its advantage to hit the ground running – promising more cops, whacking petrol companies about the head with an inquiry into pricing, and wiping historic homosexuality convictions.

Meanwhile, Labour squandered its good start to the year.

Leader Andrew Little read his MPs the riot act over caucus discipline, after MPs and the party were at odds over Little’s promise of a seat for broadcaster Willie Jackson.

Only one of these parties looks like it’s ready for an election.

National has shown it will be ruthless about neutralising contentious issues between now and September 23. Business as usual, in other words.

Labour, despite claiming it’s ready to fight an election any time, is doing a good job of looking as if it’s still got other stuff on its mind, like settling internal power struggles.

National didn’t have a good start to the year. They handled the US immigration restrictions poorly. However they have reacted to that by setting up MBIE to monitor events in the US so they are better prepared for anything that may effect New Zealand.

But then the contrasts between National and Labour began.

English quietly impressed at Ratana while Labour squabbled with NZ First and the Maori Party.

Little’s ‘state of the nation’ speech symbolically accentuated their marriage to and reliance on the Greens but was absent any new policy and ignored Maori issues that a week earlier Little claimed were very important to Labour at Ratana.

English used his ‘state of the nation’ speech to set up National’s election year and included a major policy (actually it was more than just policy as the Government will start implementing it this year), a substantial increase in police numbers.

Labour responded by claiming National stole their policy and it was being implemented too late. The were left playing the lame card.

Then Little tried to score points over English’s decision not to attend Waitangi on Waitangi Day but I think many people will have agreed with English’s stand against the Te Tii nonsense (which was effectively supported by Winston Peters and others).

English quietly impressed in Auckland instead – see Two remarkable speeches almost ignored.

And Labour’s year turned to custard. Little used Waitangi to announce his recruitment of Willie Jackson, with a promise of a high list placing, and Labour and the left went to war. The so called unity in the Labour caucus was very publicly discredited.

And the biggest left wing blogs, The Standard and The Daily Blog, also went to war, against Labour and against each other.

In the meantime the Greens stoically continued their strategy of promoting Labour and Greens as a reason to ‘change the government’.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Mt Albert by-election, with the main contenders being Labour’s Jacinda Ardern versus Green’s Julie Anne Genter.

While Ardern plays the celebrity circuit she looks shallow as a politician and lacking in ambition, she seems to be there for the ride with no intention of driving.

In contrast Genter is solid on policy, especially on transport which is a big issue in Auckland.

So while Labour and the Greens claimed the campaign would be good publicity for their joint general election strategy it may end up highlighting a show pony versus a work horse.

While National struts it’s thoroughbred ability to last the distance, which could easily be another three years.

A lot could happen between now and September’s election. English or National could really stuff something up, but so far their election strategy looks smart and sound.

Little could finally find a formula that shows him as a capable leader, and Labour could sack all their strategists and speech writers and start again with a credible and stable campaign.

But they plus Greens don’t just have to look better than National now, they have quite a bit of damage to undo. Quickly.

Labour seething over Jackson

Andrew Little has been credited with unifying the Labour caucus for a common cause, but his actions and reactions over the recruitment of Willie Jackson seems to be exposing the fragility of that absence of dissent.

Andrea Vance at 1 News: Opinion: Wait. What? How is Poto Williams the one apologising?

The handling of this little skirmish was cloddish. Firstly, Little misled journalists on Thursday by claiming Jackson hadn’t made up his mind and this was all a rumour started by the Maori party.

Behind the scenes, Labour MPs and members were seething with rage – both over the unfair leap-frogging and the casual abandonment of the party’s gender quota. The obfuscation further enraged them.

Right from the beginning, Andrew Little should have brushed off the Williams-Jackson spat. Labour is a broad church, after all. And outside of the Beltway, no one was paying that much attention.

The over-sensitive reaction has blown the story out of all proportion – and into the news bulletins for another day.

But worst of all, Labour is now the party that gagged one of its promising female MPs to spare the pride of a man who victim-shamed a teenager, live on air.

Bryce Edwards has a look at the blow up in detail in Political Roundup: The liberal vs left divide over Willie Jackson. At the core of the problem:

At the heart of the liberal campaign against Jackson are very real concerns about achieving Labour’s constitutionally mandated gender-balanced caucus. The problem is that generally Labour men have safer and more electable seats than women do, hence the party list needs to be heavily weighted with women at the top of the list. This is, according to Vernon Small, “why Little’s recruitment of Jackson with a promise of a winnable slot… has created an unpleasant undercurrent inside the party that goes beyond any personal issues some MPs have with Jackson” – see: Labour’s gender-balanced caucus target is listing distinctly out of kilter.

There could be a substantial cost.

According to the NBR’s Rob Hosking the Labour leadership was naïve in thinking that Jackson could be brought in, given the likely hostility from the more liberal elements:

“To put it another way, he is intensely disliked by Labour women, Rainbow Labour, and the teacher unions. If you take those three groups out, you haven’t got much of a Labour Party left, these days. In what world, exactly, is that a political coup for any Labour leader? It absolutely beggars belief Mr Little did not foresee the intense opposition from these groups within his own party, and/or do something to prepare the ground for Mr Jackson’s proposed elevation above many aspiring candidates – and, let’s be straightforward here – some of those candidates coming from those three groups within Labour”

– see: Parliament opens with PM on rebound and Labour on back foot (paywalled).

Little has a lot of damage to try and repair, and there may be no easy options. It may be all for nothing, Jackson may struggle to get a high enough list placing to get into Parliament anyway, especially after this debacle.

Jackson jack up divides the left

Labour seemed to be following a careful strategy through the first two weeks of the political year, first at Ratana and then at Waitangi. But regardless of the merits of their  approach there it could all unravel due to the intervention of Andrew Little in the recruitment of Willie Jackson who has apparently been promised a high place on the Labour list.

This has generated an unusually vocal uproar in social media, including divided opinions at The Standard and The Daily Blog.

And also divided opinion amongst Labour MPs.

RNZ: Willie Jackson concerns ‘a matter for caucus’

The Labour leader has spoken to his MPs after concerns over Willie Jackson’s pick as a new list candidate because of his previous comments about sexual violence.

Andrew Little has promised a high-list placing for the Maori broadcaster, who joined the party at the weekend.

Labour’s Christchurch East MP, Poto Williams, said on Facebook she could not support Mr Jackson’s candidacy until he publicly apologised for his comments about sexual violence on a radio talkback show three years ago.

Mr Jackson said he had already apologised, but that he was “happy to say sorry again”.

Mr Little said he raised the matter with caucus this morning, and reminded his MPs that if there were issues they were concerned about, then caucus was the place to do it.

He was not worried about the broadcaster causing divisions in his caucus.

“I knew that there were risks about his conduct, particularly over his Roast Busters interview, I was aware of that. But I’m also aware that on that issue, he made an apology at the time, he’s made an apology since, and made a written statement and apology over the weekend.”

The ‘roastbusters’ issue has certainly roared into life on social media, but there is the more fundamental issue of the Labour leader recruiting a controversial person and apparently promising them a high list placing. Under party rules that is not a decision for the party leader to make.

Jackson would have to get special dispensation even to be considered as a candidate as he has only just joined as a party member, and candidates are supposed to have been members for (I think) a year.

And there is likely to be a few current MPs and prospective MPs who won’t be very happy if Little parachutes in Jackson and bumps him well up the party list ahead of MPs and long term party members who want to step up.

There have been some very mixed views on all this at The Standard and The Daily Blog, in posts and in comments.

I’m sure the Labour leader’s office will be well aware of all the angst and potential upheaval in the party over this even though Little isn’t acknowledging any problems.

 

Leader of the Opposition – reply to PM’s statement

Andrew Little in response to the Prime Minister’s statement:


ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): I move, That all the words after “That” be deleted and replaced with “this House expresses no confidence in this National-led Government because it is out of ideas and out of touch on the housing crisis, because it has cut health services that New Zealanders rely on, because it has underfunded education and undermined our children’s futures, and because New Zealanders are crying out for a leader who will stand up for all Kiwis.”

Suddenly I am looking forward to this general election campaign way more than I was a wee while ago. This is going to be a fantastic year. I begin by acknowledging you, Mr Speaker, and all my colleagues and saying welcome back after what was called, in the Prime Minister’s adjournment speech, “the summer recess”. He cannot even keep that promise.

We have turned up here, in the wake of our national day, Waitangi Day. How significant that the first debate in Parliament should come after that day, when we have so much to celebrate as a nation, in terms of our values—the values that have forged who we are, forged our identity as a people. This is a nation built on a covenant, based on mutual respect and understanding, on national unity, on openness, and shared prosperity. Because that is who we are. That is New Zealand—a new nation at the time of its founding, and whose newest settlers came here for a better life and to do things differently than in the countries they came from, back home.

For a long time we all know that that Treaty did not live up to the promises made of it and the expectations people had of it. But in 2017 we have much to take pride in—a sense of reconciliation, a sense of partial reinstatement and restoration, and a renaissance of Te Reo and Māoritanga; a recognition of Māori as our unique and distinctive element.

That is what yesterday was about, in celebrations right across the country. I saw it for myself when I visited Sydney on Saturday and saw the Sydney Waitangi festival, that Māori has gone international. I do not quite know what citizenship celebrations they were having in Santa Monica however, but I am sure we will hear from our resident citizen there about how he has championed the cause of New Zealand. But right now, right now, New Zealanders are very proud of our values and who we are.

But here is the thing—here is the thing. We expect, on our national day of celebration, that our country’s leaders will front up to the place that is the birthplace of our nation. But what we had was a leader who ran away—scared, afraid. He was afraid of a little bit of controversy, afraid of a little bit of argument, afraid of a little bit of debate. You see, as a nation grows and develops, no matter how young or old it is there are always points of debate and disagreement and argument. But right now we have a Prime Minister who is simply not up to engaging with New Zealanders on what we agree on and what we differ on—a Prime Minister who runs away from his own people. Well, that ain’t no leader. We might have a Prime Minister, but we do not have a leader.

Ever since the “sales and marketing division” resigned in December last year and it has been replaced by the “chief financial officer”, it has all gone downhill. We have had no vision, and New Zealanders are fast running out of hope. In a world where division and hatred and exclusion are growing in currency, we need to assert our values and what we stand for, which is a country that talks about openness and engagement and mutual respect—that is the New Zealand spirit. That is the New Zealand spirit. And we should do that not just because that is what the Treaty embodied and told us to do but because that is who we are as a people.

That failure of leadership comes as no surprise, because it did not start with the failure to turn up to a place where the Prime Minister might be confronted with people who disagree with him. It started with his failure to front up to people who are aggrieved because of the promise that was made to them that was breached—the Pike River families. At his first opportunity as Prime Minister to show leadership he failed to do it.

He had another opportunity, you see, because the thing that New Zealanders are most worried about now is whether or not that Kiwi Dream of homeownership is going to be made real for the generation that is coming through. He could have fronted up to his best mate, Nick Smith, and said “Nick, we might be good mates—it’s nothing personal, but you’ve fluffed it for so long it’s time for you to go. I’ll put someone else in who can do the job.”, but he wouldn’t even do that. It is not leadership. It is not leadership if you cannot turn up to your failing colleague and say “Mate, it’s time to move on.” He should have done that. He should have done that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

ANDREW LITTLE: When the Prime Minister’s flagship announcement of a policy is something that we announced 6 months ago and is something directly contrary to what he signed off 9 months ago, that is not leadership; that is a failure of leadership. We all saw that in a time with a rising population and a rising crime rate, freezing police numbers was a failure. That was a failure—and they know it. They know it. They know he has failed. They know he got it wrong. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

ANDREW LITTLE: He failed. He failed New Zealanders. To freeze police numbers when crime is going up and the population is going up and New Zealanders are crying out for safer communities, that is not leadership and that is yet another failure. That is yet another failure. Our nation faces great challenges. We face great challenges. There are 15,000 more people unemployed today than there were at this time last year. There are 90,000—90,000—young people not in work, education, or training—

Hon Annette King: It’s gone up.

ANDREW LITTLE: No hope—it has gone up. There were 70,000 this time last year. Households last year ran up an extra debt of $50 million a day. That is how households are getting by, because wages are not good enough. Wages are not good enough. And thousands of young New Zealanders are still not able to afford their first homes—not just in Auckland, but around the country. There are 40,000 people still homeless. School funding has been frozen, class sizes are getting bigger, and parents are having to dig deeper in their pockets. That is not a mark of success.

National members have had nearly 9 years in Government, and that is what they have to show for it. New Zealanders are demanding a change. There were 60,000 people last year alone who went to their doctors, were told they needed a specialist appointment at their hospital, and could not get one. The hospitals told them: “We can’t afford to fix you. We don’t have the money. The funding has been cut.” That is New Zealand today. That is the experience that too many New Zealanders have of their Government services today—it is wrong and it is going to stop in September this year.

It is time to have a Government that works for all New Zealanders. That is the difference between Labour and National and it is time to make that change. It is time to have a genuinely comprehensive housing package for all New Zealanders so that, once again, young New Zealanders can genuinely hope to own their own homes—at the moment, a forlorn hope for too many. We have got to get the offshore speculators out of our market. We are not alone in that. Six other countries party to an agreement that used to be called the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement—they have got it. But we signed our rights away under that agreement to legislate for it. Now we have got it back. Now New Zealanders have the opportunity to seize the chance to do what is right for the next generations. To pass that law that says—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

ANDREW LITTLE: —that if you want to live overseas—whether in Santa Monica or otherwise—and own a house here, then you have got to build a new house. What could be wrong with that? Give New Zealanders a chance. That is all we are saying. That is all we are saying. We will build more homes—100,000 more houses over 10 years; half of them in Auckland, because that is where the need is most desperate. Affordable homes, homes of a range of different sizes and types—that is what New Zealanders need. That is what young New Zealanders are looking for. That is what their parents and their grandparents talk to me about. They talk to me now and they say they cannot see how those generations coming after them can ever have the chance that they had, that they expected when they worked hard and saved hard to own their own home. That Government has sat on its hands year after year after year for the last 8 years and done nothing and ignored the plaintive cries of New Zealanders, and it is time to do something.

I make no apology about being passionate about the future of young New Zealanders and wanting to do the best for them, because they are sick and tired of a complacent, smug, out-of-touch Government that just will do nothing on the most important issue in New Zealand today. And it does not stop at housing—it does not stop at housing. We want to make sure that those people who have to rent have a decent chance of renting a safe, warm, dry home and have decent rights as renters, because that is what they need now too—that is what they need now too.

In education this Government is failing the next generation. It has frozen funding on schools—it somehow claims it is a good thing—and the schools are struggling. The schools are struggling to do the job that their parents expect of them. You know, we leave our kids in the charge of those schools. It is not too much to ask when we leave our kids in the school that the principals and the teachers will have the resources they need to do the job. But they do not have them and it is getting harder. They cannot send the kids on the field trips, they cannot put the gear in the classrooms that once up on a time they were able to do. Schools can go to their parents and say: “Listen, you know, we can do a little more here. We can look after your kids. We can put a bit more money in. You’ve got to dig deep though, and we will run more cake stalls and we will run more raffles. We just need a little bit of extra help.”

Well, I say this. I say this is the only party in the Commonwealth that has spent the last 2 years talking about the future of work and understanding that what it means is that what we do in education will define this country’s future for the next several generations, and that is vital. Parents and grandparents around New Zealand want to know that they have got an education Minister who cares about their future and we have got an education Minister in waiting who has got every reason to care about that future because in 4½ years’ time he is going to have a direct stake in it, because we want to see Charlie doing his best. We want to see Charlie doing his best and we want an education system that is going to be fit for Charlie.

What this Government has done to the future generations of this country is nothing short of criminal. It is freezing funding when work and work demands and skill needs and technology are changing so rapidly we need to be investing in schools and education and skills and skills acquisition and people and young people as much as we can, because that is what will give us opportunity in the future, that is what will give them a sense of security and hope for the future. But they have run it down and we know what the consequences of that will be: larger class sizes—you can see it happening now—and parents prevailed upon to give more and more and more. Well, there is only so long you can bleed the hard-working parents of this country before you actually have got to admit they got it wrong—they got it wrong. In the end it will come down to priorities. Which is the party that cares most about those things that build a foundation, that give our people hope, that give our people a chance. On housing and on education it is Labour.

Look at health. There has been $1.7 billion cut out of the health budget. And you know who is suffering? You know who pays the price of that? It is the 60,000 who go to their doctor and are told: “You need help. You need to go to the hospital. You need your colonoscopy to find out whether you’ve got bowel cancer. You need to get your hip done, because you can’t walk around much longer in that state, you’re going to put your back out.” And what happens? Those 60,000 New Zealanders last year turned up to their hospital and were told: “We can’t see you. We can’t see you because we can’t afford to see you. We want to see you, we’d like to help you, but we are starved of funds and we’re running a deficit and we can’t do it anymore.” That is what they are doing. That is what the hospitals are doing, and the people paying the price are the New Zealanders who live in chronic pain and chronic conditions and cannot get the care that they need. If is not them, it is in a country with the highest teen suicide rate in the developed world—it is the mental health services. They are the ones being starved as well. They are the ones being starved.

We can do better. We can do better than that. We can look after our people. We can provide a foundation that gives families and people a sense of certainty and security—and that the help will be there when they need it. Because that ain’t there any more. That Government has taken it away. Oh, Government members are very good at talking about how well they have done. They are very good at talking about their ambition and what they do for themselves and their mates, but for hard-working New Zealanders right around the country—the people who want a school for their kids that can just do the job and prepare them for success for the future, the people who just want the health care that they need to stop them being in chronic pain—they do not care about them. They are being written off. They are just a cost saving.

Well, we can do better. We have a plan for all of that. After our housing plan where we give people a sense of security and certainty and hope for the future in those young generations, that they can live the Kiwi Dream, we will get to work on education so we have an education system that is fit for purpose that will give our kids a chance of success for the future. And whether it is early childhood education, whether it is primary, whether it is secondary, or tertiary, we will have our 3 years’ free post-school education and training, because that is what we have to do to make sure that we have got the skills for the future. Every business I talk to knows that and understands it and cannot wait any longer for it. That is why we will do it. These opportunities face us in September. These choices will face New Zealanders in September.

In health we will start the long, hard, slow task of putting back together a health system that is there for people when they need it: for the elderly who cannot get their hip operations, their knee operations, their eye operations, ophthalmology—they have got to get help as well. We are going to give it to those people. You see, when they get that, when they get that health treatment it does not just give them back a quality of life; it means they can do stuff and they are not a burden on other parts of Government funded services. It just makes sense. That is why its needs to be done and that is why the next Labour-led Government is going to do that. That is why we are committed to doing that, because that is about making a positive difference for all New Zealanders.

In the end it comes down to this. What this country is crying out for after 8 years of not seeing much of it—any of it in the last 2 months—is a leader that cares about the people of this country and the chances and opportunities they have got. Right now we do not have that leader. We have had Punch and Judy, we have had dog and pony shows, and we have had all the entertainment, but right now 8½ years of Government have left 90,000 young New Zealanders with no hope, 60,000 New Zealanders with no health care, 40,000 New Zealanders without even a roof over their head, tens of thousands of New Zealanders on low incomes, and one in five wage and salary earners who are now paying more than half their take-home pay to pay the rent or the mortgage. That is not success. That is not success and we can do better.

A real leader gives all New Zealanders a sense of opportunity and a sense of hope. A real leader steps up to the hard questions; steps up to the New Zealanders who just want to ask questions at places like Waitangi; talks to people; debates, respects difference, and respects disagreement but comes up with solutions that are about building a nation that is there for all people; draws upon the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is about unity and mutual respect and building a nation of shared prosperity. We do not have that right now. Far too many New Zealanders are missing out, wanting more, and wanting better.

Well, this is their year. This is their year, and so many of them have spoken to me just over the holidays, just over the last weekend. The Kiwis I met in Sydney explained to me why it is that they were clear. There was the young family from Porirua who only went there 4 years ago. They only went 4 years ago, and they said the job opportunity, the level of pay, the school for their kids—it is more than what they could have expected back here. That is the sad story. They did not say it with any glee. They did not see it say it with any happiness. They have had to whānau and friends behind. And the truck driver who told me his base level of pay for driving the same hours, the same work, with the same skills as he did in New Zealand—$40,000 more there than he was getting here. That is the difference.

We are a great country. We are a great people. That is why we celebrate the day we did yesterday in the way that we did. We are never afraid of hard decisions. We are never afraid of rising to the challenges. But, as a country, we get to do that only when we have a leader prepared to step up and stand up and speak up for the things that matter and the people who matter.

September is fast approaching and New Zealanders will have a choice to make. Are we going to be that country that is prepared to rise to those challenges of the future? Are we prepared to pave the way and chart the course for the next generation? Are we prepared to have a leader who will do just that—engage with New Zealanders and restore their sense of hope again? That is the Labour Party. That is me. It is time for new leadership.

Little on leadership and English

This is the ‘latest’ on the Labour Party website (they post more often on Facebook), a critique of Bill English’s state of the nation speech by Andrew Little:

My thoughts on Bill English’s State of the Nation speech

This afternoon, Bill English delivered what was supposed to be his first major speech as Prime Minister. But instead we got a skinny version of a Labour policy, and no new ideas for the biggest challenges facing New Zealand.

That’s rather ironic given that Little announced no new Labour policy in his state of the nation speech.

And it reaffirmed to me that he is no leader.

A real leader wouldn’t ignore the housing crisis, the single biggest issue facing thousands of Kiwis struggling to buy their first home. There wasn’t one mention of it in his entire speech.

Leadership is about looking out for the future and braving the big decisions – not ignoring problems because they’re hard. I know there’s a housing crisis, and Labour has a comprehensive plan to fix it.

And a real leader would’ve announced the funding of extra police officers last year, like I did. Instead, Bill English signed off on a four year freeze on police numbers – and less than a year later, he’s backtracked. He’s a follower, not a leader.

One can easily see this as cynical timing in an election year, but calling it a backtrack by a follower sounds quite odd.

Labour has known there’s a crime problem for a long time and we’ve come up with a solution. Making the right decisions at the right time, not months afterwards – that’s what real leadership is about.

It’s time for a Government with vision, energy and a real plan to make New Zealand a better place.

Let’s change the Government. You can read my State of the Nation speech with our vision of New Zealand here.

That’s the speech without any new policy.

Real leadership would show more vision than a fairly lame attack on the current leader. Rather than putting so much emphasis on trying to belittle his opponent Little should, well, act like he can be a leader.