Mental health stock take a priority for Labour, says Little

Labour leader Andrew Little promised 100,000 new homes over a decade.
BENN BATHGATE/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour leader Andrew Little promised 100,000 new homes over a decade.

One hundred thousand new homes to be built over a decade, a stock take of the country's mental healthcare provision and fairer pay.

Labour leader Andrew Little used a speech in Rotorua on Thursday night to stake out the key issues he believes will sweep Labour into power at the next election.

In what was a surprisingly personal address, Little referred to his 2009 prostate cancer scare and how this brush with mortality helped shape his political views.

Labour leader Andrew Little, Deputy leader Jacinda Ardern, Rotorua candidate Ben Sandford and Waiariki candidate Tamati ...
BENN BATHGATE/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour leader Andrew Little, Deputy leader Jacinda Ardern, Rotorua candidate Ben Sandford and Waiariki candidate Tamati Coffey at the public meeting.

"You get the phone call, 'we've got the diagnosis'," he said.

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"Life gets thrown into perspective, you work out what's important. I was very lucky to get through that."

Little highlighted a second influence on his views too - "the fact I'm a dad".

"I want to be able to look him in the eye," he said.

"That generation to whom we have to say there are parts of the Kiwi dream we can't guarantee anymore, like owning your own home. I'm not prepared to do that."

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He told the audience of supporters at Hennessy's Irish Bar that a Labour Government would focus on addressing housing shortages, low pay, education and mental health care.

"Everywhere I go people tell me stories of someone who's been let down by mental health services which are stretched to breaking point," he said.

"We will give priority to mental health services, a stock take to find out where the gaps are."

He said affordable housing, education and health were 'foundation priorities' for Labour.

"The foundation stone to opportunity and a decent life, get those things right and the world's our oyster," he said.

"We're not a poor country and we can do better."

Little offered some specifics on housing, pledging a Labour Government would build 100,000 new homes in a decade, half in Auckland.

"We're between 60,000 and 100,000 houses short, depending on which economist you talk to," he said.

"We just aren't building enough houses. Our promise is we're going to do that."

After his address Little took questions from the audience, offering a bullish response to a man who cited the Resource Management Act (RMA) for the country's housing shortage.

"You just build more bloody houses, you get on with it," he said.

Labour Deputy leader Jacinda Ardern also addressed the audience, stating her backing for Little's leadership a number of times. 

"I want to see Andrew made Prime Minister of New Zealand and I want to see Labour win on the 23rd of September," she said.

 - Stuff

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