Labour leader contenders look to past Prime Ministers for inspiration

Labour leadership hopefuls Grant Robertson and Shane Jones say they would like to follow in the footsteps of former Prime Minister Norman Kirk.

Mr Robertson said Mr Kirk had big plans but passed away too soon before he could see his vision come to fruition.

“Norman Kirk is the person that I look to,

“I think he was a man who had a huge vision for New Zealand but a practical touch to connect that vision to what New Zealanders were going through every day.

“He stood up on the world stage, he made New Zealanders proud and I often think about what would have happened if he'd lived a bit longer.

“One thing I know for sure is that we would have had a superannuation scheme that could be investing in New Zealand companies right now with billions of dollars to create jobs for New Zealanders,” said Mr Robertson

Mr Jones said he was at Waitangi in 1974 when Mr Kirk took held the hand of a young Maori child and walked with him across the marae..

“I was there when Norman Kirk took the hand of that little mokopuna Maori at Waitangi, and that really is one of the enduring images I have of our party.

“He'd be one of my major heroes,” said Mr Jones.

He said he believed Mr Kirk’s practical leadership style was what the party needed rather than Prime Minister Helen Clark’s style of social provision.

“He was a practical guy,”

“Now the thing about Helen, she was into social provision and anti-discrimination, Labour can no longer have that as its dominating brand,” said Mr Jones.

Mr Cunliffe pointed to first Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage as his role model.

“The reason for that is that we're at a point in history like the end of the Great Depression and we need a new programme, a new beginning, and this is the time for some real change.

“And just like Michael Joseph Savage we need to show a real love and compassion and work alongside all Kiwis from whatever walk of life.

“That’s what I want to do too,” he said.

Mr Cunliffe said Labour needed to get back to the basics that Mr Savage preached, to provide the needs for the people who need them the most.

“Get down, be very real about people's needs for a decent roof over their head, a good job, food on the table, a school they can depend on, free health care when they need it. That’s what Labour's basics are,” he said.