Roll out the (pork) barrels

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

The pork barrels have been rolled out in the Labour Party leadership battle, with Grant Robertson promising to introduce a “living wage” of more than $18 an hour for all government workers.

He told 350 party members and unionists in Levin yesterday that he would set a timeframe to phase in the living wage, which is currently set at $18.40 an hour for a family to live without suffering poverty.

He also pledged to lift the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and repeal all of National’s industrial relations laws.

All? So there goes the 90 day trial law, which would make us almost the only country in the OECD not to have one.

With 20% of the vote, the contenders are forced to promise the unions everything they want.

Robertson later said he did not yet know the full cost of his promise, and that would determine how soon it could be introduced.

Who needs to worry about cost! Just send the bill to the taxpayers!

Robertson’s announcement gazumped rival David Cunliffe, who was expected to make similar announcements at the two meetings in Auckland today.

Cunliffe declared he, too, would repeal employment relations laws, and introduce a Government-wide living wage over time.

If one of them declared that they will nationalise the banks and ban all foreign investment in New Zealand, I suspect the other will have pledged to do the same by the end of the meeting based on how loud the cheers are.

“It will be a strong package of policies that will put unions back in the centre of the fight for equality.”

He denied it was simply an attempt to court the union vote, saying the party had always held a strong role in industrial relations.

“It has an industrial wing and a political wing. We will win when those two wings fly together.”

What this means is that Labour passes laws to benefit unions, and unions use their extra funds to help Labour stay in power so that Labour can keep passing laws to benefit them. At the last election unions represented the vast bulk of the third party spending.

The third leadership contender, Shane Jones, focused on the need to build up small-town New Zealand.

He said he would focus more on Pasifika and working-class issues at today’s South Auckland meeting and “more intellectual” issues for the audience in West Auckland.

Intellectual issues for West Auckland? And if there is a forum at Wainuiomata, he’ll talk about his arts policy there I guess 🙂

 

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