One David is 'dynamic', another 'trustworthy' and the third has 'integrity'. Labour's three David's say why they should be the man to take on National's Goliath.
Asked for one word to describe themselves, Mr Cunliffe said "dynamic", Mr Parker said "integrity" and Mr Shearer said "trustworthy".
What do you want to do with the party?
David Shearer: Each time the Labour Party has picked itself up and reconnected with New Zealanders. Lange did it and Clark did it to become the progressive, relevant party. That's what we need to do now. During the election, to some people it looked the same. We need newness and a fresh look that captures the imagination.
David Parker: I want to broaden our appeal by reaching out to some of those people who used to vote for Labour but who no longer do . . . the contractors, the sole operators and those people who are on medium incomes, who have to go home and their partner often works part-time and they've got to fill in the GST return at night. We must stand up for those people and be the party that represents them.
David Cunliffe: I want to modernise, reorganise, renew and rebrand.
Should the list selection process change?
DS: Yes. When people like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash don't make it up high enough to be re-elected . . . it is not delivering the results we need.
DP: I think we do need to look at a lot of our internal processes including how we run our list processes. I didn't think it was well done last time.
DC: There are definitely lessons to be learned from the election result.
What is Labour's relationship with the unions?
DS: They are an essential part of our party and we need to look at how we can support them. They are in our soul. But we have to recognise many employed are not in unions and many, many more are self-employed. Labour has to be a party for absolutely everybody.
DP: The unions are . . . a force for good. All they're doing is helping the people get ahead. [We have to] reach beyond those people to the other people who work just as hard . . . do we really talk to them at the moment? Do they think the Labour Party is representing their interests today? I'm not sure they do.
DC: They are good. The Labour Party is the political wing of a movement which also has an industrial wing which is represented by the unions and we come from a tradition where we value and promote the interests of working people. In a modern world . . . I see our role as reaching right across from those who are most challenged in their circumstances to those who are well off, because we want the whole of the country to move forward.
What is Labour's relationship with Maori - do they have a special place?
DS: Yes. Labour has always been the party Maori have turned to. I would like to see that built stronger. I worked for the Tainui Trust Board and that experience had a pretty profound impact on the way I see Maori and the challenges we face.
DP: Absolutely. I would say this is a great weakness of the National Party. That is the strength of the Labour Party compared with other parties and it is a strength we must always nurture.
DC: Yes, they do. By choosing [Nanaia Mahuta] as my deputy-in- waiting I'm making a very strong statement that the Treaty partnership is central to us, that both Maori and Pasifika New Zealanders have a very strong place in the Labour Party.
Who would be your finance minister/spokesperson? You?
DS: There are several people that could do the job. At the moment I have not got that far, other than thinking about general strengths and weaknesses in the front bench. Both are friends and have had a role in the last three years. They have different skills and attributes. (Mr Shearer flats with Mr Parker in Wellington).
DP: No comment.
DC: I would not intend to hold the finance portfolio personally and I have not made a decision about who would hold that.
How does Labour restore credibility as economic managers?
DS: It matters enormously . . . we face pretty grim economic times and we need to be disciplined and strict about it while creating that vision for how New Zealand will grow and the direction it will grow in. That is one of the areas that did not come out enough in the election. We need to get behind our smart companies . . . especially in that green area.
DP: I think we got part way there in the election campaign; there were some attacks made on us on the numbers. We didn't completely win on the issue but I think the idea that we were "borrow, hope, tax , spend", I think didn't especially work for the National Party because it just wasn't true.
DC: Labour has earned credibility as economic managers in the nine years of the Clark-Cullen government. We ran surpluses every year, reduced government debt to zero and had the world's lowest unemployment. The whole world has had a tough time and New Zealand is no exception. But New Zealand underperformed even that because of the lack of a plan from the current Government.
Where do you stand in the party - Left or Right?
DS: Fairly centrist, fairly pragmatic. DP: Rather than being Left or Right, I stand for a prosperous economy that delivers security and happiness for working New Zealanders.
DC: I am a social democrat and I don't like putting tags on people because it's in the eye of the beholder. I come from a family that had very little and I've worked hard so I understand the need both for compassion and the need for opportunity.
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- The Dominion Post