David Parker stresses egalitarian roots
Labour' deputy leader and finance spokesman David Parker has stressed the party's egalitarian roots in a scene-setting speech at its election-year congress.
"I am an egalitarian politician," he said.
Parker stressed Labour's commitment to a balanced economy and greater equality of outcomes.
"We believe that a rising tide of economic growth should lift all boats, not just the super yachts."
"We have rising inequality in New Zealand, we have the lowest home ownership rates in 50 years we've got rising rates of child poverty and half of New Zealanders got no increase in their pay rate last year while luxury car sales tripled."
Those were the big issues at the September 20 election, and Labour had the policies to address them.
Parker said Labour would under spend the $500 million it has set aside for new spending promises and has left a buffer for potential coalition partners' policies.
Speaking to reporters after his opening address to more than 400 delegates at the party's election year Congress, Parker would not say how much of the contingency was left after recent education policy announcements.
On Wednesday Labour committed $50m to lowering the cost of "voluntary" school donations and today Leader David Cunliffe announced a policy to ensure all year 5 to 13 students had a personal laptop or iPad at an annual cost of $19m rising to $41m in 2016/17.
Cunliffe all but ruled out appointing Internet-Mana MPs as Cabinet ministers although he said he was open to Greens and NZ First sitting at the Cabinet table.
Parker repeated Labour's alternative Budget plan, which includes an increase in the top tax rate to 36c on income over $150,000 as well as a capital gains tax, universal KiwiSaver, more house building, budget surpluses and monetary policy reform.
He also called for protection of the environment, singling out the need to clean up polluted rivers.
Labour wanted a national policy statement under the Resource Management Act that would say "clean rivers can't get dirty and all dirty rivers have to be cleaned up over a generation".
He said National's policy was to set minimum standards that would be safe to wade in or boat on but not to swim in.
"It's very hard to find a person who doesn't think our rivers should be clean enough to swim in."
Rural people wanted that too, and while most farmers were responsible his message to dirty dairy farmers was to clean up their act.
He said the penalties for water pollution were already tough but the rules were not good enough.