Cunliffe announces new Labour insurance policy

Last updated 15:42 02/11/2013

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has unveiled plans for a KiwiBank-style insurance company to provide an alternative to Kiwis frustrated by the current model.

In a speech to Labour's annual conference today, Cunliffe said the insurance industry was dominated by foreign-owned businesses.

"Building on the success of KiwiBank, Labour will create a local insurance company called KiwiAssure which will work for all New Zealanders," he announced.

"Kiwis are sick and tired of seeing their hard fought for assets sold off to foreign interests."

The Christchurch earthquakes had left thousands of Cantabrians struggling to get their claims approved and households throughout New Zealand faced more restrictive cover, Cunliffe said.

"Christchurch residents know their pay outs have been slow and the services they've received have been patchy. Many New Zealanders are concerned the sum insured changes have pushed up their premiums. They want the assurance of a service focused state-owned company that has their best interests at heart."

Subject to a business case KiwiAssure would be a sister company of KiwiBank and would evolve out of the existing Kiwi Insurance Limited. 

It would offer home, contents and vehicle insurance, along with cover for small business plant and equipment.

Cunliffe received an ecstatic welcome from around 600 delegates in Christchurch today after arriving at the party's annual conference - his first conference as leader.

He used his speech to attack the National government for ruling in the interests of a few at the expense of the many".

National had created "two New Zealands" - "one for the rich and powerful, who don't pay their fair share of tax because they have smart accountants to ensure they avoid it" and the other where people struggled to put food on the table, children went to school hungry and "senior citizens shiver in their homes," he said.

He also used his speech to accuse the Government of snubbing a convention that invitations were not issued for a royal visit during an election year.

He believed Prime Minister John Key would invite the royal family to bring "its newest and cutest member here for a long series of photo ops in an election year", Cunliffe said, referring to Prince William, wife Kate and their baby George.

"They should come. But will John Key dare take the Duke and Duchess back to McGehan Close? 

"Will he take them to a closed sawmill in Rotorua or a boarded up tannery in Shannon? 

"You can be sure he'll bring them to Parliament. But will they meet the nightshift cleaners he won't pay a living wage? 

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"The contrasts between National and Labour, between their New Zealand and ours, could not be greater. "

Mr Cunliffe also referred to an "explosion" in Labour membership this year of 75 per cent.

- Fairfax Media

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