Labour launches Coast campaign

Labour leader Andrew Little had the audience captivated and at times bursting into applause

Labour leader Andrew Little had the audience captivated and at times bursting into applause

Andrew Little

THE LABOUR Party’s State of Gisborne “party” last night proved a popular affair with close to 100 people packed into the already tightly-spaced Verve Cafe and Bar. In a speech that covered youth opportunities, employment, education, healthcare and the housing crisis, Labour leader Andrew Little had the audience captivated and at times bursting into applause.

Mr Little was joined by East Coast electorate candidate Kiri Allan, Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri, Dunedin North MP David Clark — who had worked on Labour’s regional development policy — and Labour Party Maori senior vice-president Tane Phillips.

It was a casual evening with a long question time and a chance to meet the MPs in the build-up to the general election on September 23. Ms Allan said they were “putting the party back in the party”. A cross-section of society attended, including lawyers, factory workers, tradespeople, carers, retirees, through to union faithful. There were plenty of young voters in their twenties, all the way through to the elderly.

Mr Little began his speech paying respects to Christchurch, with reference to the Gisborne rain.

“I hope they get some of this too.”

He then spoke of a lack of opportunities for youth and high unemployment in the Gisborne region.

“There are too many young people not in jobs and not in training.”

Labour was committed to reversing a funding freeze on education and providing three years of free post-school education. Their regional development policy, which included a $20 million stimulus package announced today to support a timber milling factory, would provide more jobs in the region.

Healthcare

In healthcare he spoke of how many patients were being referred to specialists, only to be put on waiting lists. Sometimes they were not seen until it was too late.

“That is not the kind of health system we should have.”

He spoke specifically of cuts to mental health.

“It is absolutely squeezed for funding. A real black spot in New Zealand is that we have among the highest teen suicide rates in the developed world. How can that happen in a country as beautiful as ours?”

An audience member, who worked with the elderly, was concerned many with dementia were not getting adequate care. Mr Little said that was a consequence of $1.7 billion the Government had cut from healthcare.

“Our pledge is to restore those cuts over time. The elderly will be looked after as we restore that funding.”

KiwiBuild plan

There were fewer opportunities for young people, including his kids, to own their own homes.

“Forty years ago we had among the highest rates of home ownership in the world. Today that has completely changed. Aucklanders are selling-up and moving to areas like Gisborne, pushing up prices here. In the last year prices rose here nearly 10 percent. It is affecting every community.”

Labour’s KiwiBuild plan to construct 100,000 affordable homes for first-time buyers over 10 years would address this.

Questions regarding immigration

A member of the audience asked what Labour would do to stem “unbridled immigration”, which they believed to be part of the reason for rising house prices. Mr Little said while New Zealand had always needed immigration for labour, it had to be better managed.

In response to another question he said they would increase the points towards residency for immigrants to move out of Auckland, and their regional development policy would provide jobs to facilitate that.

Mayor Meng Foon raised concerns about the district’s roads, the number of people waiting on the social housing list and police numbers. Mr Little said Gisborne needed a good transport plan, that would include road, rail and a coastal shipping service. When he mentioned rail the room erupted into applause.

Other questions revolved around deprivation, superannuation and tax. Mr Little said Labour would not touch superannuation, nor a capital gains tax. They would however do a review of the tax system based on a model of fairness.

Feedback

Speaking after the event Clayton Farmer, a 21-year old farmer, said he was disappointed most of the night revolved around Auckland, but was impressed by Kiri Allan.

“I believe she can do the job most have failed to do — bring an end to the deprivation and social housing issues, while encouraging investment in the region.”

Yeliz Karanfil said it was good to be able to hear the politicians speak person-to-person.

“They made the effort to come here. I appreciated the comments about respecting diversity and support for mental health funding.”

THE LABOUR Party’s State of Gisborne “party” last night proved a popular affair with close to 100 people packed into the already tightly-spaced Verve Cafe and Bar. In a speech that covered youth opportunities, employment, education, healthcare and the housing crisis, Labour leader Andrew Little had the audience captivated and at times bursting into applause.

Mr Little was joined by East Coast electorate candidate Kiri Allan, Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri, Dunedin North MP David Clark — who had worked on Labour’s regional development policy — and Labour Party Maori senior vice-president Tane Phillips.

It was a casual evening with a long question time and a chance to meet the MPs in the build-up to the general election on September 23. Ms Allan said they were “putting the party back in the party”. A cross-section of society attended, including lawyers, factory workers, tradespeople, carers, retirees, through to union faithful. There were plenty of young voters in their twenties, all the way through to the elderly.

Mr Little began his speech paying respects to Christchurch, with reference to the Gisborne rain.

“I hope they get some of this too.”

He then spoke of a lack of opportunities for youth and high unemployment in the Gisborne region.

“There are too many young people not in jobs and not in training.”

Labour was committed to reversing a funding freeze on education and providing three years of free post-school education. Their regional development policy, which included a $20 million stimulus package announced today to support a timber milling factory, would provide more jobs in the region.

Healthcare

In healthcare he spoke of how many patients were being referred to specialists, only to be put on waiting lists. Sometimes they were not seen until it was too late.

“That is not the kind of health system we should have.”

He spoke specifically of cuts to mental health.

“It is absolutely squeezed for funding. A real black spot in New Zealand is that we have among the highest teen suicide rates in the developed world. How can that happen in a country as beautiful as ours?”

An audience member, who worked with the elderly, was concerned many with dementia were not getting adequate care. Mr Little said that was a consequence of $1.7 billion the Government had cut from healthcare.

“Our pledge is to restore those cuts over time. The elderly will be looked after as we restore that funding.”

KiwiBuild plan

There were fewer opportunities for young people, including his kids, to own their own homes.

“Forty years ago we had among the highest rates of home ownership in the world. Today that has completely changed. Aucklanders are selling-up and moving to areas like Gisborne, pushing up prices here. In the last year prices rose here nearly 10 percent. It is affecting every community.”

Labour’s KiwiBuild plan to construct 100,000 affordable homes for first-time buyers over 10 years would address this.

Questions regarding immigration

A member of the audience asked what Labour would do to stem “unbridled immigration”, which they believed to be part of the reason for rising house prices. Mr Little said while New Zealand had always needed immigration for labour, it had to be better managed.

In response to another question he said they would increase the points towards residency for immigrants to move out of Auckland, and their regional development policy would provide jobs to facilitate that.

Mayor Meng Foon raised concerns about the district’s roads, the number of people waiting on the social housing list and police numbers. Mr Little said Gisborne needed a good transport plan, that would include road, rail and a coastal shipping service. When he mentioned rail the room erupted into applause.

Other questions revolved around deprivation, superannuation and tax. Mr Little said Labour would not touch superannuation, nor a capital gains tax. They would however do a review of the tax system based on a model of fairness.

Feedback

Speaking after the event Clayton Farmer, a 21-year old farmer, said he was disappointed most of the night revolved around Auckland, but was impressed by Kiri Allan.

“I believe she can do the job most have failed to do — bring an end to the deprivation and social housing issues, while encouraging investment in the region.”

Yeliz Karanfil said it was good to be able to hear the politicians speak person-to-person.

“They made the effort to come here. I appreciated the comments about respecting diversity and support for mental health funding.”

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