8 Sep 2013

Labour leadership roadshow in Wellington and Nelson

4:12 pm on 8 September 2013

Labour's three leadership contenders made a pitch to the unions for support at Saturday's hustings meeting in Wellington.

It's the ninth of 12 candidate meetings being held around the country, as Labour prepares to vote in a new leader to replace David Shearer.

About 500 people packed the hall at Wellington Girls' College for the meeting, including a large contingent from the Service and Food Workers Union.

This is home turf for the Wellington central MP Grant Robertson who got the loudest applause from the audience.

Mr Robertson told the meeting Labour believes in a living wage for workers and if in government would repeal National's employment relations laws.

New Lynn MP David Cunliffe also made a pitch to the unions saying Kiwis are working longer and harder.

He says John Key has attacked workers rights bit by bit.

Shane Jones told the meeting he would incinerate the employment relations bill currently before Parliament if he becomes the Labour leader he says he would repay the loyalty shown to the party by the unions.

Fighting talk in Nelson

There was fighting talk as well as laughter when the Labour leadership roadshow rolled into Nelson earlier on Saturday.

About 200 people, including party members from as far away as Golden Bay and Kaikoura gathered to hear speeches from the three candidates - David Cunliffe, Grant Robertson and Shane Jones.

Mr Robertson told the meeting the Prime Minister needs to watch his back.

He said John Key tried to say that the Labour leadership contest would be like some dreadful reality TV show.

"Well he's the one, I would venture to suggest that's now in a reality TV show, it's going to happen next year and it's called The Biggest Loser."

Mr Robertson said it was up to voters and Labour to make sure that that happens.

The challenges facing the horticultural and fishing sectors were raised, as well as the need for higher wages.

David Cunliffe said slave labour on foreign fishing vessels has to go.

He said the boats put every fish they catch into foreign factory trawlers that take them to Asia for processing paying no tax, adding no value and creating no jobs in New Zealand.

Shane Jones who used his often repeated description of Prime Minister John Key as a guerrilla made no apologies for his controversial remarks of late.

He said while people acknowledge the value of policy, politics is a blood sport.

The road show is in Dunedin on Sunday.