Labour duo keen to talk jobs and growth

Labour's Shane Jones, left, and Andrew Little were in Taranaki yesterday talking about job growth.
Labour's Shane Jones, left, and Andrew Little were in Taranaki yesterday talking about job growth.

Controversial Labour Party bigwig Shane Jones has moved to position the party well clear of the Greens and their "anti-development" message.

In Taranaki for a two-day visit with party justice spokesman list MP Andrew Little, the regional development spokesman spent much of the first day pow-wowing with oil and gas industry players.

"I am keen to defang these misapprehensions that are abounding that somehow industry has disappeared from our purview.

"Nothing could be further from the truth and if my visit provides the opportunity to reinforce the centrality of jobs, the importance of industry and the need for a future Labour-led government to assuage whatever anxieties might be there in the minds of employers or future investors then I am up for the task," he said.

Offshore oil and gas drilling was an essential feature of domestic and export growth, Mr Jones said, and businesses and enterprises enabling it would get full government support.

There was an appetite for such growth in Taranaki but the "anti-development" message was strong on the East Coast, where oil and gas exploration is on the increase, and in the Far North, where he was attending an anti-mining hui next month.

Mr Jones said the Greens, some non-governmental agencies and some hapu were delivering that message.

"Sustainability is as much about sustaining the livelihood of people as it is about guarding the ecological habitat of the Hochstetter's frog. As long as I am in politics as a Maori politician I am going to be unambiguous in standing up for jobs and people," he said.

It was "mischievous" to talk about Labour's policy as designed to suit the Green Party and though he occasionally found common cause with New Zealand First it was only with the aid of a telescope that he might do the same with the Greens.

‘The two parties have often found common ground. In April they announced a joint plan to establish a state-owned company, NZ Power, that would make electricity up to $330 a year cheaper for consumers.

Labour and the Greens have also seen eye to eye on holding a referendum on the sale of state owned assets.

They are also often talked of as potential coalition partners. In June a Roy Morgan poll showed National support at 44 per cent, Labour at 33 per cent and the Greens with 11.5 per cent.

Mr Little said that as well as restructuring the power sector, a Labour-led government would investigate establishing a capital gains tax, create a more sustainable superannuation system and grow the manufacturing sector.

Mr Little was unsure if he would be contesting the New Plymouth seat again in 2014.

Taranaki Daily News