Wellington, 14 May 2017
The following is a highly-edited version of a speech delivered by Andrew Little, Leader of the Labour Party of New Zealand at the Annual Congress 2017 of his Party in Wellington today. For full text of his speech, please visit www.labour.org.nz
We have four and a half months ahead of us, and a great opportunity to give this country a fresh approach (a) to make sure everyone has a decent place to live (b) for hospitals that can treat everyone who turns up for care (c) to give hope to young people looking for work and (d) to make our rivers clean again and take real action on climate change and the environment.
The next four and a half months are a fight for a better New Zealand, and for everyone in this magnificent country of ours.
I am especially proud of two things: We will bring at least nine new, amazingly talented women to Parliament as Labour MPs. And, get this, after the election, at least 1 in 4 Labour MPs will be Mori. We will have the largest representation of Mori MPs of any party, ever, in New Zealand politics.
New Zealands housing crisis – yes, crisis – is not just about out of control prices. It is about the insurmountable barrier that many first home buyers now face. It is about the rapid increase in rent that tenants are seeing now.
It is about the disruption it is causing to the education of thousands of children.
It is about the fact that what is happening with housing is now the main cause of growing inequality and growing poverty in New Zealand today.
New Zealand urgently needs some fresh thinking on housing.
Every Kiwi family should have a place that they can call home.
And everyone should have a shot at owning their own place.
So, heres what were going to do.
The first thing is we will build homes that families can afford to buy.
So, there are three things were going to do to level the playing field:
First, we will ban overseas speculators from buying existing houses. Simple as that. Well do that in our first hundred days.
Second, we will make speculators who flip houses within five years pay tax on their profits.
Third, today I am announcing Labour will close the tax loophole that allows speculators to claim taxpayer subsidies for their property portfolio.
Right now, speculators can take losses from their rentals and offset that against their personal income. It allows them to avoid paying tax.
This loophole is effectively a hand-out from taxpayers to speculators. It gives them an unfair advantage over Kiwi families.
So, Ill tell you.
We will close the loophole. It is over.
We will level the playing field.
Well make our homes healthy, warm and dry.
Labour has so many fresh ideas for New Zealand.
We will ensure that the government buys Kiwi-made to keep work here and invest in regional infrastructure.
We will get young people off the dole and into jobs improving their communities and the environment. I am committed to lifting wages and improving work rights, especially for lower income workers.
We will make our rivers cleaner and tackle climate change.
Through all these policies and in every decision, Mori will be at the table. Mori aspiration sits at the core of Labours vision for New Zealand.
Because we are a progressive party – we stand for a better future for each generation; we think ahead; we invest in the future.
We are a party of great passion – for our people, for ideas that make this a more perfect country.
I am here to help build a better New Zealand.
But, before we get that opportunity to help build that better New Zealand, weve had to build a better Labour Party.
We have had to build a party that is ready to win, to govern, to lead.
As I look out at this Congress, today, I know we have achieved that.
We have done it by working together.
We have built a dynamic, modern party.
We have packed out halls and pubs around the country with ordinary Kiwis, keen to hear our vision. Keen to support our plan.
We have built a strong relationship with the Green Party to show that there is a stable alternative government, ready to go.
And because of all that, we have been winning. In the local elections. In Mount Roskill. In Mount Albert. You know, by the time of the Mt Albert by-election, National had stopped even bothering to show up!
Our Party is in amazing shape.
We have a fantastic caucus, amazing new candidates, a huge army of volunteers, and hundreds of thousands of Kiwis signed up as supporters.
Labour is ready to win in 2017.