Monday, April 04, 2005

Labour gets ready

I haven't blogged over the past few days as I have been at the Labour Party congress in Wellington. The congress only occurs in election years, and differs from non-election year conferences in that the focus is almost exclusively on getting ready for the campaign.

The congress this year was extremely well organised, had a good attendance, and an overwhelmingly positive feeling. Candidates went away well resourced and upbeat having spent the weekend soaking up a lot of information and sharing information with each other.

The PM's keynote speech was really good, and she again made reference to moves to assist families save for the costs of housing and retirement - this is a real interest of mine and I look forward to the full policy which I guess will be announced in the Budget. Cullen's speech was as usual hilarious, particularly the description of the leader of the Opposition as a "crosss between Mr Magoo and Dr Strangelove".

Those sorts of comments aside, the good thing about the weeekend was the overwhelmingly positive tone of the congress. Candidates were told that our main job is to communicate the positive achievements of the government and to focus on the optimism and pride that currently pervades the country. With all the economic and social indicators in such good shape that's something that is understandable. This pride in the achievements of New Zealanders was nicely underscored by a really good line up of live New Zealand music including Nathan Haine's jazz band.

All in all a very good weekend with a couple of late nights at various night spots thrown in for good measure.


Graham Watson said...

She should be also helping families save for the cost of tertiary education.

Abandonment of that was unfortunate for the many from families where it is a struggle to educate the children.

michael wood said...

While I agree that more assistance with tertiary costs would be great, I do note that moves such as the recent expansion of student allowances to cover an extra 30 000 students from modest backgrounds, and the re-establishment of apprenticeships(abolished by National) are of significant assistance to the "strugglers" wanting an education that you refer to.

Graham Watson said...

Indeed Michael it was Labour who introduced student loans, higher fees and abolished the universal student allowance, all provided under National.

Labour lost the election in that year 1990. It is true that no government since, Labour or National has remedied this, and for good fiscal reason.

The reality is however, assuming a similar system will operate under either being in government (save tinkering at the margins) the cost of tertiary education will continue to be a barrier or hurdle for many.

A programme to assist people to prepare to provide for this I thought was a sensible move by Labour.

That is was recently abandoned is indeed a shame.

Anonymous said...

Labour did not abolish the universal student allowance - National did. I received it during my first two years of university in 1990 and 1991.

Neither did that Labour Government introduce the student loans scheme, though a model was investigated by it. Given the more modest levels of the fees at the time and the maintenance of a universal student allowance it was arguably a less urgent priority for assuring access.

Graham Watson said...

Go take a history lesson, if you are prepared to identify yourself anonymous I am prepared to wager $100 that I am correct.

Labour introduced it in 1990, was kicked out of office and it came in to practise in 1991 when the Nats were in office. National did not change Labours plan.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you consult 'The Decent Society' edited by Jonathan Boston and Paul Dalziel to confirm your mistake.

Anonymous said...

on p.186, that is.