Labour ready to fight for the south
OPINION: A week is a long time in politics, and what a week it has been for Labour.
Firstly I acknowledge Andrew Little whose integrity and dignity led him to make a tough call about what is best for our Labour Party. My caucus colleagues and I are fighting to make this country a better place, and we back and support Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis as leader and deputy leader to take us into a Labour-led government.
As Jacinda has coined, "relentless positivity" is our focus going forward. Labour will continue to fight for what we have always stood for – housing, health, education and equality. New Zealand can do better and we must do better.
It's a good time for everyone to check their voter enrolment details are correct, and also time to take stock of what is important to us in the south.
It should come as no surprise that along with access to health services, one of the biggest issues for people is affordable housing and concern about growing homelessness.
Recently I spent four nights camping out in Dunedin's Octagon on behalf of two constituents with young children who could not get a state house and were forced to beg WINZ every week for emergency accommodation.
I heard from hundreds of people over the course of the five days spent living outside. Some offered support; others came with their stories of hardship and struggles with homelessness and housing issues.
The problem is not just isolated to a few cases or anecdotes. Almost $1 million a week is being spent on housing issues in Otago and Southland New figures recently showed that more than 40,000 people live on New Zealand streets or in emergency housing or "substandard shelters" - almost 1 percent of the entire population according to OECD statistics Something needs to change.
Labour's vision for New Zealand is one where everyone has a warm dry home. Labour has already announced 1000 affordable homes for the south in Queenstown, and our KiwiBuild programme will build 100,000 high quality affordable homes spread across the country.
We will build more state houses and ensure rental homes are warm and dry.
A Labour government will put people first, no matter where they live. It's time to invest in our regions by creating jobs for the changing economy. It's time to fix the health of the south by rebuilding Dunedin Hospital and fully funding our public health system.
It's time to put our kids' schools first and protect the future of this country. And it's time to sort out housing, so that everyone has a warm dry house to live in.
Labour is ready to fight for the better New Zealand, so let's do this.
Clare Curran is MP for Dunedin South