Shearer's speech: Style over substance

VERNON SMALL COMMENT
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2013

Relevant offers

Politics

Holy KiwiSaver Batman! Plan to grow KiwiSaver told through superhero doll clips As Shearer joins the exodus, the likely election date just stepped closer Out with the old, in with the new in 'outward looking' Coleman Government? David Shearer tipped to lead UN mission in South Sudan, quit Parliament Paul Henry v Gareth Morgan: The 'tax loophole cowboy' and the 'wowsery socialist' Nelson City councillor Matt Lawrey seeks Green Party candidacy Gareth Morgan's divisive policy to tackle inequality Key's resignation has thrown open the door to the call for 'generation change' Campaign launches against sale of social housing as officials head to Australia to discuss sell-off PhD research highlights unparliamentary language in New Zealand

Labour's David Shearer may not have been smooth, but he was genuine and a man of substance.

OPINION: So the spin went last year when he was struggling to sound fluent during speeches and impromptu press interviews. He was, if you like, substance over style. But his address to party faithful yesterday - not a "state of the nation" speech exactly, but a scene-setter for the year - was the exact reverse.

The delivery had the punch evident last year when he saw off the challenge from David Cunliffe and used the party's bold housing policy to woo party activists at Labour's annual conference.

The joke about Prime Minister John Key's "epiphany" over the need for more apprentices got a good laugh: "I thank the focus group that brought that to his attention."

These days Mr Shearer is taking no chances on the presentation front, even using an autocue when talking to about 170 party faithful in a Wainuiomata rugby clubroom.

But if there were new lines, there was also a swag of old ones, including Labour's theme du jour: The need for "hands-on government".

Nowhere was a new policy to be seen.

He did sow some seeds, telling a team of MPs to find ways to turn economic buzzwords such as smart growth into meaningful programmes ("not airy-fairy concepts") and setting up another to examine how to improve the transition from school to more training and high-skill jobs.

Perhaps Labour thinks that, while National is squirming, there is no point hiding its popular housing plan under a bushel of new policies.

So, for now, big new ideas are on hold, while Labour builds up its leader's confidence and credibility and tries to cash in on what it hopes is a growing mood against National.

Ad Feedback

- Wellington

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content