David Shearer. Photo Getty
Labour leader David Shearer has outlined his party's
plans to work on policies such as ensuring school children can
move seamlessly from school to a job or further education, and
to develop an alternative White Paper on child poverty to
challenge the Government's.
Mr Shearer delivered his State of the Nation address in the
working class suburb of Wainuiomata in Wellington today.
The speech was short on actual policy - and instead aimed to
set out his reasons for advocating more interventionist
policies, saying the market-based approach had failed.
Setting out Labour's goals for the year ahead, he said its
top priority was jobs - including working with local councils
on local projects to ensure people did not have to leave
their hometowns for work.
It would also focus on boosting the manufacturing sector and
the high-tech industry.
"We will not create more better-paying jobs by simply
exporting more milk powder. We've been talking about it since
Mike Moore invented lamb burgers. Our future prosperity will
be carved out by backing the talent of businesses working in
He had also asked his team to take a look at the transition
from school into further training or jobs, saying the lack of
support there was "a flaw in the system."
"Without this we will continue to see kids without the right
skills to get a job, falling through the cracks."
Child poverty was also a focus and he said its Social
Development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern would prepare an
alternative White Paper to help combat child poverty.
"We need a smart, hands-on Government, a Government that is
prepared to be a player, not a spectator."
He said the party's recent affordable housing policy to build
100,000 cheaper homes, particularly in Auckland, was an
example of such an approach.
"It's ambitious, but New Zealanders can see right through the
Government's hands-off approach that leaves it to the
He did not ignore the economy, saying there was still a need
to get Government debt under control and re-stating Labour's
intention to introduce a capital gains tax to try to shift
investment from property into businesses.
He also accused the National Government of having low
expectations which were holding the country back.
"For four years, we've been fed skilfully spun excuses for
why we can't get ahead. It's the global financial crisis, the
Canterbury earthquakes, the global outlook that is the
problem ... There is always an excuse for why we can't get
ahead. I refuse to accept that for New Zealand."
He used climate change as an example of the Government
dragging its feet, saying it was not enough to be "fast
He poked fun at Prime Minister John Key, saying Mr Key's
recent announcement of more youth apprenticeships was the
result of "an epiphany" that there was a youth unemployment
"And I want to thank whatever focus group brought that to his
- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald