Labour's top priority would be jobs, boosted by its promise to build 10,000 affordable houses a year, leader David Shearer said today.
In his scene-setting speech for 2013, which contained no major new policy initiatives, Shearer said the country was looking for a government that would roll up its sleeves and back them.
"I'm refreshed, I'm fired up and I'm raring to go, " he told a crowd of about 170 party faithful in the working class Wellington suburb of Wainuiomata.
"The global landscape has changed as a result of the financial crisis. It's not just a blip. National hasn't woken up to the fact. Its hands off leave it to the market approach has failed. Too many people are being left behind."
He said this year for Labour would be about preparing for Government.
'"We want New Zealanders to know we are ready to govern.''
He had asked his education team to look at improving transitions from school to further training and high skill jobs.
"85,000 young New Zealanders are not in work, education or training. It's a flaw in our system"
He had also asked colleagues to develop a clear plan to diversify the economy - a plan he could put in front of the country "not airy fairy concepts".
"The difference between the forces of conservatism and the need for change has never been wider."