David Cunliffe is promising a "true red" government and "radical" employment reform if he becomes prime minister, as momentum appears to build behind his campaign for the Labour leadership.
A poll by TV3 on Friday had Mr Cunliffe, the MP for New Lynn, in the lead in the Labour leadership race and he received a further boost yesterday when a poll by TVNZ's Q+A found 39 per cent believed he was the most likely to win next year's general election.
Over the weekend, four of the six Labour affiliated unions - which collectively carry 8.7 per cent of the vote - endorsed Mr Cunliffe to their members.
List MP Shane Jones was backed by 18 per cent of those polled for the Labour leadership, while 15 per cent named Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson.
At the Wellington meeting of the leadership campaign on Saturday, attended by about 600 party members, Mr Cunliffe said the union support would be rewarded with "radical" employment law changes.
This would include industry-standard employment agreements, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour within 100 days of forming a government, giving the "living wage" of $18 an hour to core public servants, "and rolling out [the living wage] as we can afford to after that".
The Employment Relations Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, would be repealed "by lunchtime", Mr Cunliffe said.
"That's bedrock David Cunliffe social democratic Labour policy. That is going to happen."
He promised party faithful a visible change in tack from the current government. "The Labour Party I lead will be a true red Labour Party, not a pale blue one."
In Dunedin yesterday, he denied his strategy would alienate some voters, saying a motivated team would win votes, with a clear message of change.
"They'll get a very different government from the one that's currently in power."
Some Labour figures have warned against a hard turn to the Left.
Speaking for the first time since he stood down as Labour leader, David Shearer hinted the place for the party to try to win votes was in the centre.
Mr Shearer said the voters who had walked away from the Labour Party were "male, white, middle-income", who might swing between National and Labour, and therefore were more valuable.
"If you take a vote off National and you add it to yourself, you take two."
Mr Robertson, who was initially considered a frontrunner, dismissed the recent polls, saying they were irrelevant to the contest, which would be determined by the caucus, unions and party members.
"If they took a poll of the people who are actually going to be voting in this election, it would be a different result."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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