3 Nov 2018

Labour's president says National's 'sense of entitlement' on display

1:34 pm on 3 November 2018

In the red-lit Dunedin Town Hall, Labour members are reflecting on the 2017 election victory this weekend, a win few predicted at last year's conference.

The red-lit Dunedin Town Hall, the venue for  this year's Labour party conference.

The red-lit Dunedin Town Hall, the venue for this year's Labour party conference. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Dunedin is a Labour stronghold, with only one seat in the city won by National in the last 50 or so years, back in 1975.

It's the city chosen by Labour to hold the post election conference, the first time it has done so as a party in government for a decade.

Last night at the official opening, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern thanked the membership for their help in getting Labour elected to power.

This morning party President Nigel Haworth delivered the traditional rallying cry, telling members Labour had to stay focused on governing.

He said the party was making sure it was fit for purpose in the MMP environment and its finances were "sound".

They had already put money into the fighting fund for the 2020 election, said Professor Haworth.

And he had a warning about Labour's political opponents.

"The main opposition party has been thrown into turmoil and uncertainty that will last", he said.

"Their sense of entitlement is on full display, and with it comes the sort of behaviour we've seen recently in the cyber-bullying of a Kiwibuild family.

"Cornered creatures attack and they attack fiercely - so it will be with National."

Deputy leader Kelvin Davis also addressed the conference, telling them about his upbringing in a poor street in Kawakawa, and how that had shaped his life as an educator and then an MP.

He reflected that many of his friends had lived a hard life, were in jail, or dead before their time.

"Poverty has a face. It has names.

"We are talking about our neighbours, our friends, our whanau."

Mr Davis also paid tribute to the Prime Minister, saying Ms Ardern was "showing young girls and sometimes older men how it's done".

He also alluded to Labour's support partners, whether it was "the odd boil up with Winston" or for the Greens "sharing jokes in the corridors with our Kakariki cousins".

"We all get along, and like every good waka crew - we know we have each other's backs", said Mr Davis.

The conference also heard from Kristine Bartlett about her fight for equal pay for care workers.

This afternoon Ms Ardern will take part in a youth panel, ahead of her keynote speech tomorrow.