Shearer’s address in reply speech

Some extracts from the speech:

The Maori Party is right to force poverty into the Government’s line of sight.

And today I repeat my invitation to the Government: Make that committee a committee of this House.

The Prime Minister should know this is not an issue to play politics over.

It sounds very nice to say let’s all work together to fight poverty, just as it sounds very nice to say let’s all work together to reform the tax system. But the reality is that the parties have massive policy differences on these issues. Yes they tend to agree on the desired outcome, but just two weeks ago ’s policy of giving beneficiaries an extra $70 a week to be on a benefit got rejected by the electorate, and National’s welfare reform policies for effectively endorsed.

If is saying there is a realistic possibility that Labour will support the outlined welfare reforms, support the starter wage to get young people into work, and will drop its $70/week pledge – then there might be some merit in a multi-party approach.

This Labour Party will put growing the pie for all New Zealanders at the front of our agenda.

We cannot be content dividing an ever shrinking pie. It means growing the nation’s wealth.

Labour will grasp the mantle of economic leadership. We will look to expand opportunity for all New Zealanders, wherever they are born or whoever they are born to.

Excellent. A Labour Party which talks about growing the pie is a good thing.

We must build an economy that produces good jobs and decent incomes.

Yes, but for an un-skilled 16 year old seeking some part-time work after school, $12 per hour is a good job and a decent income. It may not be for a skilled 35 year old in full-time work who is the primary income earner, but let’s be careful in our desire to lift wages for the latter category, we don’t destroy jobs for the former. Decent incomes come from increases in productivity – not via legislative fiat.

We need a school system that gives our children the confidence and skills to be leaders in a new economy.

It’s too easy for a school leaver to drift out of school, and they’re lost.

I agree. I look forward to Labour supporting national standards as a first step to identifying those who need assistance before they become lost.

I’m never going to agree with most of Labour’s policies. However there are some glimmers of hope there that there will be at least some things I agree with. The focus on growing the cake, not just dividing it up, is especially welcome.

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