Cunliffe South Ak Speech - Leading Labour On the South Side

Published: Mon 2 Sep 2013 09:26 AM
Otahuhu Events Centre
1 September 2013
Leading Labour On the South Side
Ngā Mana Whenua, Tainui Waka, Ngāti Whātua, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Kia ora, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Bula vinaka, Faka’alofa lahi atu
Taloha ni, Kia Orana, Namaste, Sat Sri Akal, Salaam Ali’kum, Ni Hao Maand a warm South Side greeting to you all.
To all the Dads out there – happy Father’s Day and thanks for spending part of your special day here to support Labour.
I guess all of us are here because we love our kids and want a better future for them.
It’s why we work so hard to do the right thing by them.  And it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet; parents are doing two and three jobs just to put food on the table and then not getting time with their beautiful kids.
So today I want to talk to you about three things: providing living wages and fair work for all our families; embracing the diversity that is modern Auckland; and why I can lead Labour to victory in 2014 to get these benefits to you.
The Dads among you will probably agree that you never fully understand the love of a parent until you become one yourself.
My Dad had a profound impact on me.  He taught me important values about fairness, dignity and respect.  He was a Minister in a small rural town in the South Island and he and my Mum worked hard.
We did it tough at times, because he was pretty ill when I was a teenager. But, you know what? It was still nowhere near as tough as some of you are doing right now thanks to the National Government
And let us begin with a clear statement - that’s why I am standing here today. Because I know Labour’s values really matter.
I know Labour has the same hopes you do – A better future, with well-paid jobs  - ones where you are respected and valued - opportunities for our kids; a good state education; housing; free health care and a secure retirement.
Those values are as true now as they ever were. And we need to make sure they are hardwired into the policies and decisions of Government.
Because that’s not happening right now.  John Key and the National Government don’t have the same values the rest of us have.
They don’t care about the rights of workers or how tough it is for hard working families to manage the high costs of petrol and power and food and rent.
Folks I left my boys at home this morning because I wanted to come here and give something to you.  My father’s day present to the children of South Auckland is to give you back your fathers, to make sure you can earn a decent living wage so that you can spend time with your kids, not just working three jobs for them.
Just two weeks ago I had a meeting here in South Auckland with a bunch of taxi drivers.  They queue six hours for an airport pickup job; do on average two pickups a day; work 14 hours, 6 days a week and take home on average less than $5 per hour.
What do we want?  National gone!  When do we want it?  Right now!
Or the Pasifika family from Kelston I helped find a state house.  Dad lost his job in Penrose when the manufacturing plant closed down; they were too poor to afford rent on their own so they moved in with relatives.  He and his wife had five kids; the relations had four; so that was 13 of them living in one basic three bedroom home.
What do we want?  National gone!  When do we want it?  Right now!
Or cleaners, many of them members of my own union, the Service and Food Workers union, who are among our lowest paid workers.   Like the cleaners in Parliament, the biggest House is the land, working all night for just $14.10 per hour.
Cleaners get beaten down every time the cleaning contract changes hands. And in its latest appalling Employment Relations legislation, the National Government is taking away the last protections for vulnerable workers of so called ‘small employers’.
It wants to give bosses the right to walk away from negotiations without settling.  They even want to rob you of your smoko and lunch breaks!
What do we want?  National gone!  When do we want it?  Right now!
Under a Labour Government that I lead, that legislative rubbish will be gone by lunchtime!
That’s right.  We will repeal the Employment Relations Amendment Bill and all the other draconian anti-worker laws within our first 100 days as Government.
No more right to fire at will, without even a decent explanation.
No more undermining the role of unions, who play a hugely positive role in keeping a workforce together and building safe healthy workplaces.
No more taking away your right to strike; no more selling your precious Christmas holidays.
No more removing from the employers the obligations to settle, and wrecking the ability of unions to fight on your behalf.
The employment relationship is not equal. It never has been; it never will be. That’s why we need policies and laws that are fair.
Under my leadership Labour will have fair industrial relations laws starting with industry standard agreements.  In the first 100 days of a Labour Government.
What do we want?  National gone!  When do we want it?  Right now!
But that’s not all John Key has done. He has given tax breaks to his big business mates and put up GST for the rest.
John Key and Paula Bennett climbed the ladder.  He grew up in a state house, but now won’t let state houses be built in his electorate at Hobsonville.
Paula Bennett was a single mum who got her education via the training incentive allowance, then became a minister and stopped others like herself getting the same leg up.
I am the product of a good state education. My family has done well.  But the difference between me and John Key is that I want every Kiwi kid to be able to climb that same ladder of opportunity. Not pull it up after us, like John Key and Paula Bennett have.
Under National, forget compassion, dignity or hope.  Hard working New Zealanders are not entitled to any of those, according to Mr Key.
Instead the rich get richer and the National Government tells the rest of us to wait for the trickle-down effect or “neoliberalism”. The Global Financial Crisis blew the lid off the myth that trickle-down will create a fairer, more prosperous New Zealand.
Under Labour, we can do better.  Labour has the fresh ideas.  What we need now is the right leadership to make sure that everyone in New Zealand gets a fair chance and a fair share.
You know, there is an even deeper story to tell here.
It’s the story of our Labour values, of why we believe that every Kiwi kid should have the best start.
For me, Labour values are rooted in the firm belief that every single one of us is created equal and is of the same moral worth.
No matter the colour of our skin or the size of our parents’ wallets.
No matter where we came from or how long we have been here.
If each of us is worth the same then we deserve the same chance to go to a good school, to get good health care, to live in a warm dry home, and to believe in a better tomorrow.
Last time I ran I was proud to have Hon Nanaia Mahuta as my running mate; this time under our new constitution the caucus chooses the Deputy Leader.
I recognise the importance of building on diversity in our caucus; and recognise the contribution of South Auckland MPs Sua William Sio, Lousia Wall, Ross Robertson, Rajen Prasad, and Raymond Huo who are here today.
I am committed to recognising and developing talent right across our caucus.
As a Westie MP with four out of ten of my constituents not born in New Zealand, I know that modern Auckland has a multicultural future.
Let’s celebrate that future.  From Diwali to Eid, Chinese New Year to Pasifika, let Auckland’s cones ring to the beats of young, multicultural New Zealand.
A Labour Government that I lead would honour the Treaty of Waitangi and invest in that proud diverse future.
My cabinet would commit to a regular series of Iwi Forums across the country, to develop lasting partnerships with all major iwi.
We would encourage the arts across the board, and invest in further building our unique, strong national identity.
We would drive forward on public broadcasting, including exploring a Pasifika TV channel.
But most of all, you have my deep and unswerving commitment to honour the diversity of all our communities and all our people.  We are a rainbow nation. We can have a proud future.
All our good intentions, all our phone books of policy, all our values and our platforms, will mean sweet nothing in the lives of our people unless we win in 2014.
I am here before you today because I am ready to lead Labour to victory now.
I am asking for your support because we have to win next year. We simply cannot afford four more years of National destroying our jobs and burdening down our families.
As your leader I will unify the party, caucus and wider Labour movement, so that we are unstoppable in 2014.
I will connect those Labour values and policies with hard working New Zealanders so that they know they will be better off under a Labour government and will get out and vote.
I have experience and skills in business, in government and around the world that mean I can lead a Sixth Labour Government to victory in 2014, and to strengthen our economic credibility once we get there.
I can make tough calls when needed, even against powerful vested interests.  As a Minister and a front bencher, I busted the Telecom monopoly and kicked out a dodgy health board because I believed in doing what was right.
I have the vision to make New Zealand a better place, working with all of you, to give every New Zealander a fair chance and a fair share.
This is no time for complacency.  We must choose a leader who has the skills and experience to do the job right now.
We need a leader who is grounded in the struggles of ordinary working families at an electorate level, but also skilled in making government work smarter, able to talk the languages of business and technology, and to operate on the world stage.
I have those skills and experience to fight for hardworking New Zealanders.
That is my commitment to you today.  No ifs, no buts, no maybes.  A Labour Government under my leadership is going to make a difference to your lives.
We are going to make sure we have the basics for families. We are going to build strong communities and we are going to fight for workers’ rights.
Under my Leadership, Labour will roll back National’s harsh employment laws and make a real difference to workers, their families and communities.
You know, it is easy for a politician to promise the earth, moon and stars. To say that everyone will have a job tomorrow and a living wage.  That is what I want and I won’t settle for less.
It won’t come overnight and it won’t happen by accident.  It is going to take a lot of work.
My name is David Cunliffe. I am ready to win and ready to lead. I can foot it with John Key or any other National Minister in any debate, anywhere, anytime.
I am proud to be part of the Labour Party team and am confident we will win the confidence and trust of the nation in 2014.
We all want National gone.  We all want it right now.

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