Labour promises an Indian MP in 2017

Venkat Raman

Labour Party Leader Andrew Little has promised at least one Member of Parliament from the Indian community in the next Parliament, following the general election in 2017.

“It is a pity that we do not have a person of Indian origin representing the Labour Party in Parliament. I propose to make amendments in the next general election and ensure that we have at least one Member of Parliament from one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic communities in New Zealand,” he said during an interview with Indian Newslink in Auckland last week.

Mr Little was not the Party’s Leader when the Selection Committee finalised the Labour List for the general election held on September 20, 2014.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who has been a party worker and Deputy Chair of the Labour Electorate Committee in Wairarapa, was Number 23 on the Party’s List, ‘too low’ to make it to the debating chamber.

She is now Policy Research and Communications Assistant to Phil Goff, sharing his Electorate Office in Mt Roskill, Auckland.

Party failings

Among the failings of Labour Party were its inability to read the pulse and mood of the people, the failure of frontbenchers (save for former leaders Phil Goff, David Cunliffe and David Shearer) to identify themselves with the Indian community and be a part of their festivities and celebrations and explain their policies and programmes with clarity and vision.

However, Mr Little promises to make amends and for a start, he acknowledges the importance of the communities of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Nepalese origin. More importantly, he is keen to see more small businesses succeeding in their enterprises.

Promoting SMEs

As he stated in his State of the Nation Speech in Auckland on January 28, 2015, expanding the workforce (job growth) and promoting small businesses should be addressed on priority. “When people have jobs, they have dignity, self-respect and their families have the best future. The social inequality that we suffer today, built up over the last 30 years or so, must be the driving force for the change that we need to make. It is a vicious circle – more inequality means slower growth, which in turn means more inequality,” he said.

Dry Statistics

Accusing the National Government of supplying ‘dry statistics,’ Mr Little said a number of hard facts are never mentioned.

“They will not tell you about the fact that a well-paid young couple in Auckland now has a harder time buying a house than they could in New York. They will not tell you about the children who fall into poverty and have to rely on charity for breakfast,” he said.

Mr Goff, who is Labour’s Spokesperson on Auckland issues said that the country’s largest and most populous city has a stunning environment and amazing diversity.

Auckland’s woes

“Auckland is increasingly important to New Zealand in terms of its population size and economic contribution. It also however has critical challenges that must be met to maintain and enhance our quality of life,” he said.

According to Mr Goff, the City must first invest in transport infrastructure to prevent the growing traffic gridlock. Commuters in Auckland face the daily ordeal of long and never-ending traffic jams, poor public train and ferry systems and ‘too many road works that are ill-planned.’

“We need to address a crisis in housing, where fewer people can enjoy the dream of home ownership. Property prices and rents are soaring. We need an efficient and cost-effective approach to managing the City so that rates do not continue to spiral upwards. I am focusing on these issues as a concerned Aucklander,” he said.

The Issues

Transport, housing, power outage and rising cost of living will be among the issues that will become subjects of heated debate next year as the City prepares for Mayoral elections. Incumbent Len Brown has expressed his desire to run for the third term but Aucklanders may want a senior politician with central government experience and a person who understands the people better to be the next Mayor of the megacity.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan shares her house-hunting experience in Auckland in an exclusive article appearing in Homelink.

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