Labour leadership trio set out policies

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 15:30 27/08/2013

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Labour's leadership contenders have begun shedding some light on the direction they would take the party and the country if successful at next year's election.

Grant Robertson has said he expects the three candidates will start rolling out individual policy preferences at the public meetings over the next two weeks.

In the meantime, they have largely adhered to the party line though they outlined some of their thoughts this morning.

Under David Cunliffe and Robertson, the "man-ban" – which would allow some electorates to have women-only candidates – could be back on the table if the party wants to revive the idea at the annual conference in November.

Both also indicated they backing policies on a capital gains tax and a rise in the top tax rate.

Shane Jones has reiterated his desire to create jobs and said he supports oil and gas exploration.

Former leader David Shearer ruled out the proposed man-ban, alienating some party members who felt they had been ignored in the process.Cunliffe said the man-ban as it was proposed was not his preferred position. However, he would not stand in the way of the party – which has 40 per cent of the vote in the leadership contest – if it decided it was the best option.

"We are and should be committed to a target of 50 per cent women representation in our caucus.

"In terms of the mechanisms, as I said earlier, the particular one that was discussed then is not in my view the preferred one but my overall stance is it should be a matter for the party and the party conference."

Robertson said he supported the party's decision "to put that to one side for now and focus on how we get more women into Parliament".

Cunliffe said yesterday he would raise taxes to try and distribute the country's wealth more evenly.

Robertson said today he supported the Labour Party's policy of having a fairer tax system.

"We went to the last election saying that the top rate of tax should go up because that represents all New Zealanders paying a fair share and I support that."

Cunliffe also said the Labour Party would be "extremely attentive" to Maori under his leadership. A series of forums with iwi around the country would be held to allow Maori to outline what they wanted from the party.

He hoped the move would bring Maori voters back to Labour.

"Labour usually has the right to govern when it has the broad support of tangata whenua and I take the Treaty partnership very seriously and I want that ... support to come home to Labour."

Both men supported Labour's power policy.

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"We have to stop power companies creaming super profits. New Zealanders deserve a fair go," Robertson said.

Shane Jones said he had joined the contest to show Maori and Pacific people "and, really the hammer hand from PlaceMakers, that they can have a place in New Zealand politics via the Labour Party" and re-engage them with politics.

"And unless we do that I'm beggared if I can see how we can enliven the 800,000 lost tribe of voters who really never voted for us last time because they didn't feel that either we represented what they want or we weren't going to kick a goal."

He maintained that he was in touch with everyday workers in spite of spending so much time in the corporate world.

"The kinds of people that have supported me probably to stand, occupy talkback country as much as they do enterprise but the thing about corporate New Zealand, yeah, it's easy to lambaste them but unless we have robust corporates where are the people going to get jobs from?"

Jones said he supported the extractive oil and gas and innovation sectors which had to be embraced by Labour to create jobs.

He also said he would not repeal the SkyCity convention centre deal saying the Government could not arbitrarily rip up contracts signed by the Crown.


- Fairfax Media

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