Cunliffe takes party line to PN

Change of season reflects opposition's hopes

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 08:05 13/08/2014
Cunliffe
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: MP Iain Lees-Galloway and Labour leader David Cunliffe in Palmerston North.

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David Cunliffe is hoping for a change of government to accompany the change of seasons.

The Labour leader was in Palmerston North yesterday campaigning ahead of the September 20 election, which he said was still there for the taking.

Support for his party was growing, he said, as people started to take note of the party's policies.

"We're heading into spring, we've been through winter."

That spring was a Labour-led government that would put jobs, homes and families first after a winter that was the past six years under National.

After visiting Stevensons Engineering, Food HQ and Massey University, Cunliffe held a public meeting at the Globe Theatre.

Between engagements he told the Manawatu Standard that Labour's internal polling had the party on an upswing. "I do think we are on a rising curve," Cunliffe said.

Political polls released in July had Labour in the low to mid 20s. However the latest result, from Roy Morgan, had Labour up 6.5 points to 30 per cent.

That had given the party faithful a boost of confidence, he said.

A result in September in the mid-30s would allow Labour to govern with support from either the Greens or NZ First or both parties.

Cunliffe has ruled out going into a coalition with Internet Mana.

He thought Labour would hold on to Palmerston North, saying the seat was "safeish". He said he could have considered it a marginal seat this election if it were not for the strength of Iain Lees-Galloway as a candidate. "He's a rising star MP."

For the first time this year Labour had campaigned as regional teams with neighbouring candidates taking to the streets together.

That approach was on show at the Globe Theatre where Cunliffe was joined on stage by Lees-Galloway, Rangitikei candidate Deborah Russell and Te Hai Hauauru candidate Adrian Rurawhe.

He gave a short speech in which he outlined Labour's vision for more people to be employed in higher-paid jobs. Labour's goals included having everyone under 20 in either employment or training and to lift 200,000 children out of poverty.

"That's essential," he said.

Cunliffe then spent more than an hour answering questions from the audience of more than 150 people.

The loudest applause came when he said Labour would scrap charter schools, league tables and national standards. He also pledged, in response to questions, to broaden access to assistance for special needs students, return New Zealand to international climate change negotiations and go after those who rorted the tax system.

Asked what Labour could do for students, he said the party was announcing its policy next week but would be undoing some of the changes to student loan eligibility made by National.

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- Manawatu Standard

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