David Cunliffe and Rongotai MP Annette King took their
message to the streets of Newtown in Wellington yesterday.
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour leader David Cunliffe's student-friendly promises
earned him a mostly warm reception on the campaign trail -
though a handful of students proved difficult to impress.
Campaigning at Victoria University and in Newtown,
Wellington, yesterday, he spent as much time urging young
people to enrol and vote as he did promoting Labour's policy
Despite Electoral Commission figures showing 386,000 eligible
voters were not yet enrolled, Mr Cunliffe said most students
appeared to be engaged in politics.
"I didn't find the students I talked to apathetic," he told
reporters. "Everyone I talked to was on the roll and
everybody was intending to vote."
During an hour-long visit to the university, he showed Prime
Minister John Key was not the only political leader capable
of creating a queue for selfies.
Students reeled off their concerns to the Labour leader, with
the high cost of living and house prices at the top of the
They also ask him about big picture issues - what would he do
about mass surveillance and the Five Eyes Network?
As a crowd gathered, some politics undergraduates dug into
the finer points of Labour's foreign policy and trade
One asked how Labour could demand transparency on the
Trans-Pacific Partnership when it also signed free trade
agreements behind closed doors. Mr Cunliffe said Labour had
involved unions, environmental groups and NGOs in trade talks
when it was in power, and would do so again.
Students perked up when he spoke about two increases to the
minimum wage in Labour's first year in Government.
The Green Party's Gareth Hughes was also pressing the flesh
on campus, armed with his party's policy of free public
transport for tertiary students at off-peak hours.
Labour planned to release its tertiary education policy next
Mr Cunliffe hinted that Labour would reverse National's
proposed changes to university councils, which cut them from
20 people to 12 and removed guaranteed student
representation. Labour might also improve access to student
But some remained sceptical.
Politics and media student Tom Livingston, 21, said Mr
Cunliffe was "growing to become a stronger leader" but he was
not convinced he was ready to be Prime Minister yet.
One grim-faced student at the fringe of the crowd asked what
Mr Cunliffe would do if National was re-elected.
"Do our best to win in three years." the Labour leader shot
The student shook his head: "That's a long time, man."
- By Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald