The secret diary of . . . David Cunliffe

Last updated 05:00 02/02/2014

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OPINION: As leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, it gives me great pleasure to stand onstage in the darkened auditorium of a school in an obscure corner of west Auckland and make serious remarks concerning early childhood education in my State of the Nation speech while everyone is completely distracted by the joys of a public holiday and the excitement of the Grammy Awards.

I want to begin with an anecdote that humanises me as an ordinary New Zealander.

I had a bit of time to kill one morning over summer so I decided to climb Mt Everest.

It was icy in places but I wrapped myself in the scarf I used to wear as a student at Otago University.

The smell of the wool brought back priceless memories. Memories of rocking out at parties to the sounds of Genesis. Those were the days! Or were they?

As I stood on the peak of the world's highest mountain listening to Sessudio on my iPod, I felt then what I felt in Dunedin: cold.

You might say, "Well, David, that's your problem."

But it's also New Zealand's problem.

And it's Labour's problem.

Because we're all in this together. We're all cold. And hungry. But I'm not hungry for myself. I'm hungry for New Zealand.

That's why I'm announcing that a Labour government will give every new-born baby 60 hot meals of nutritious baked beans every week until they're old enough to operate a can opener.


I slightly misspoke yesterday. I meant to say new-born babies will receive 60 hot meals of nutritious baked beans every week until their parents are old enough to operate a can opener.


I slightly miscalculated on Monday. I meant to say new-born babies will receive 60 nutritious baked beans every week, as in 60 individual beans, not 60 cans of beans.

No baby needs that many beans. They need a balanced diet which includes fruit and vegetables. In the past, Labour promised to remove GST from fruit and vegetables, but that's no longer the case. We don't have the time to sit around and define exactly what constitutes a fruit or a vegetable. We're impatient for New Zealand. Let's get this country moving!

In the meantime I just want to reassure the public that new-born babies will receive exactly 60 nutritious baked beans every week. Not 59. Not 61. Read my lips: 60. To that end, a Labour government will establish a fully staffed Ministry of Bean Counters.


I slightly miscommunicated on Monday. I was absolutely frank and absolutely clear when I declared my love for Genesis.

But there's a distinction between liking early Genesis, and liking mid-career Genesis, when Phil Collins's presence became more apparent. You can't like both. At no point have I ever said that you could like both.

You have to draw a line in the sand. You have to say whether you prefer their first albums, when Peter Gabriel led the band in an intellectual, theatrical direction, or whether you'd rather listen to their albums when Phil Collins took over vocal duties and Genesis achieved mainstream success.

Our materials - which we published at the time of the speech - made clear right from the get-go that people have a choice. They can either regard early songs such as the 23-minute "Supper's Ready" as the band's classic work, or say that Genesis only reached artistic maturity on more commercial albums such as Invisible Touch, which yielded five top 10 hits in the US.

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One word in the speech could have been different. I should have said I rocked out to Supertramp.


I slightly mispronounced on Monday. I meant to say that under a Labour government, new-born babies will receive exactly 60 nutritious baked beans every year.

It works out at slightly more than one bean per week but it's better than nothing - and that's exactly all my opponent has to offer. There's no confusion about that statistic.

- Sunday Star Times

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