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Shearer outlines 'hands-on' policy-making push

Labour Party leader David Shearer announced no new policy today in a much-hyped 'state of the nation' speech, but outlined a series of policy-making initiatives in 2013 for a new "hands-on" approach, including to "develop a clear plan to diversify our economy."

At the same time, its likely coalition partner in a new government after the 2014 election, the Green Party, launched a new coalition of interests opposed to the current direction of government policy at what was billed as its "state of the planet" picnic.

Both announcements followed Prime Minister John Key's own scene-setting speech for 2013 last Friday to a business audience in Auckland, at which he warned councils to free up land for more affordable housing as the government contemplates major changes to resource management law, and said New Zealand must become a "magnet for investment."

Shearer touted Labour's plan to build 100,000 new, more affordable family homes as an immediate kick-start to jobs, and announced a national conference to assist develop housing policies "at the cutting edge of urban design and energy efficiency."

The affordable home design conference will involve "the best ideas of architects, designers, urban planners and others".

The initiative is similar to the Labour-instigated Opposition manufacturing inquiry, which begins at Parliament tomorrow without participation by government MP's but involving Green and New Zealand First MP's.

"Our economic team will develop a clear plan to diversify our economy," Shearer told an audience in the working class Wellington satellite town of Wainuiomata. "It's about backing the talent of businesses working in high tech and the innovations of those adding value to our natural resources. A thriving manufacturing sector is at the heart of our vision."

"I want KiwiBuild ready to roll on Day 1 when we take office," he said, partly because the home-building scheme would create work. The Greens last week announced a rent-to-buy scheme for low income people to acquire government-built homes, in a move aligned with Labour's housing policy.

Housing affordability is emerging as a key political issue after years of house price increases outstripping New Zealanders' income growth. However, home-building is about to take off in Christchurch, as the city's post-earthquakes rebuild gets under way.

Shearer also promised a white paper this year from shadow social welfare minister Jacinda Adern, with alternatives to addressing child poverty beyond Labour's existing commitment to provide more food to schools.

"This year I'm asking my education team to look at ways to improve transitions from school to further training and high-skill jobs," he said.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said the "I'm in - for the future" campaign sought to "draw together new constituencies of New Zealanders disillusioned with the direction the Government is taking", aiming to "stop negative policies being enacted before the 2014 election."


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Comments and questions

So Labour can build a three bedroom house in Auckland for $300k but a four bedroom one will cost $550k??

Daft numbers pulled out of the air. There are plenty of houses available now for $550k - just not central.

Why couldn't we do this with KiwiRail and build our own trains at Hillside and utilise Kiwi engineers, designers and skilled labour and put the money back into the community?

For exactly the same reason.

I'm glad Labour is taking this interventionist approach and realised the free market is a flawed system. It always baffled me that we care, educate and support people up to the age of 18 then throw them to the wild west free market and say "survive, you’re on your own now".

It's like raising a penguin or any animal, for that matter, in captivity then releasing them to the wild once they are fully grown - they won’t last 10 minutes. If you are going to allow free market to reign best teach kids how to bully, deceive, fight for resources, take advantage of the weak, trick and use people, etc. Don't teach them anti-bullying, empathy, caring, reponsibility, acceptance and helping others, or if you work hard you will make it cr*p.

Moreover, make them aware that 80% of them will be slaves to someone else’s fortune and to accept their dreams will never come true because the free market doesn't care about your hopes and dreams – it’s only a mechanism to keep society in “survival of the smartest and fittest” equilibrium mode much like “natural selection” keeps the jungle in survival of the fittest mode.

We climbed out of the Jungle 200,000 years ago and the only species that can manipulate and adapt its environment to suit us so that we don’t “just have to survive”. So why can’t we adapt and manipulate society so that everyone has an equal rights, not only to food, love, shelter, but also respect, opportunities and happiness until they die.

We have come so far: abolished slavery, first to give women the right to vote, accepted gay marriage – why stop here … keep going. There are no laws in nature, physics or biology that prohibits this, even though the rich will tell you it’s not possible. But then they would say that, wouldn’t they?

Government needs to intervene and create a better system and this is just the start. Well done, Labour!

Do you really believe that a small group of individuals sitting around a table, making up a wish-list, can make better decisions than the entrepeneurs who make decisions based on what they know is happening, and back those decisions with their own money?

So a bunch of people sitting around a table trying to make it a fairer system is worst than a bunch crooks setting up an investment company that promises 12% return on unsecure debentures. How many investment companies conned how many innocent people out of their life savings? The unregulated free market allows that. What about property developers that over-value their assets to achieve the same thing? What about insurance companies that have little re- insurance but make massive profits for years, then delay paying on major disasters as they double their premiums so we have to pay for it a second time? The unregulated free market allows that. What about so-called businessmen setting up bottle stores on every street corner in impoverished areas to take advantage of vulnerable people, or casinos and pub pokies taking advantage of problem gamblers? The free market allows that. And then we have the bankers sitting around boardroom tables thinking up extravagant ‘financial innovation’ entities like ‘credit default swaps’, ‘collateralised debt obligations’ and ‘synthetic CDOs’ and use predatory leaning techniques to people that can’t afford it causing the world financial crises ….yes, the unregulated free market created that, too. I think the untold damage your so-called entrepeneurs sitting around boardroom tables cause is far worst than a bunch of politicians thinking up ideas to try and protect us.

It takes talent to be completely wrong in every single aspect of such a long comment. Congratulations. Presumably you are on welfare or a bureaucrat since no-one else could possibly employ such a talent.

Typical red neck response - abuse the person and not offer one correction or counter argument.

If you think my conclusion is abuse then refute it with evidence. Odds on it was accurate.

As for correcting the rest of your nonsense, that would be a line by line reeducation that I am willing to give you at a reasonable hourly rate.

I am not hard to find so call me if you want to schedule it.

Our boy, juiced his remarks by saying he's "all fired up". But, how much bang can you get from a damp squib?

Ah, but the $300,000 dwelling in Auckland is not much bigger than a dog kennel, according to Mr Shearer's latest comment,

This just confirms the perception, Labour does not know where its going. Shearer is saying people want the Govt more involved in their lives, in my circle we want less of the Govt local and national, involved in our lives. Shearer has said he will build a family home for $300K. This morning on the radio he stated for $300K you will get a terrace house of maybe 2 bedrooms. The Greens will make a fine partner for Labour, both are all rhetoric and no substance.

This is another labour lolly-scramble, just like interest-free student loans. He's promising homes to people who cannot afford to raise their own children without state handouts, let alone service a substantial debt. And what's this "getting on the housing ladder" stuff ? The last thing NZ needs is for Labour to kick-start yet another property boom, like the last one it kicked off in the early 2000s by raising taxes and creating an incentive to avoid paying it. Just hollow words from a hollow man..

Shearer is totally disingenuous, the $300k will buy SMALL apartment or terrace type homes in Massey, Papakura and Manurewa. So what is so great about that, the homes the Govt are building for state housing in Glen Innes are just like those described. His policy is hype to bring in votes but will deliver nothing more than existing policies.

This is "Interest Free Student Loans to all comers" all over again. Give away now, and let the future generations try to pay down the debt. Oh, sorry, I forgot, we are going to open up Govt Print with Mr Norman at the helm printing a few billion new $nz to give out to the masses. When is TUI going to put up a billboard with WE CAN PRINT OUR WAY OUT OF THIS MESS.

10,000 homes a year is 192 per week. Really?
This is utter BS and why does the MSM not call it for what it is?

Exactly. One house every 52 minutes, night and day for 10 years. Not impossible for a major developer like the govt. who cah sub it out to every builder this side of the black stump, but meeting the price will be.

NZ definitely needs a change of Government.

The five policy areas are "nice" but Shearer should have more detail by now.
I've concerns about whether he has the right team to implement very major policy shifts. With old 1980s types like King and Mallard hanging around I've my doubts. Robertson only has parliamentary party political experience. And Shearer is only in parliament since he was handed Mt Albert in 2009.

They need to change the people mix...

Shearer does not have the charisma to win the public nor the leadership skills to unite his party. These policies need heavy grunt at the top.
With his polling where it is he will have too many Greens in the cabinet (and Winston?) to drive a focused agenda.
The members should push for a poll on a new and younger leadership team. Some oldies are blocking real change.