Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis is emphasising the need to beat National and Act in the upcoming election. Photo / Supplied
Labour Party members are being strongly warned of the prospect of a National/Act Government in the opening speeches of the party’s Congress.
Deputy leader Kelvin Davis set the tone early, criticising Act’s intentions to scrap several ministries and boost prison numbers while also hitting out at “negative National”, saying everything is at stake at the upcoming general election.
“The coalition of cuts is real”, Davis impressed upon the 400 people in attendance.
It comes as the latest 1News Kantar Public poll indicates National and Act could form a government, a shift from prior polls that have suggested a combination of Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori could get over the line.
Party president Jill Day preceded Davis with a more upbeat speech, paying homage to party leader and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins whom she described as “the most down-to-earth, sausage roll-eating, Coke-zero drinking Prime Minister we’ve ever had”.
Labour’s iconic former leader Jacinda Ardern got a brief mention from Day, to immediate applause from those who had gathered at Te Papa in Wellington.
But the focus was quickly shifted to Hipkins, who was not attending this morning as he was watching his children play Saturday morning sport. He will be making his speech tomorrow afternoon.
“Our Prime Minister will always choose to do the right thing, our party will always remain principled,” Day said.
Davis began his speech referencing the challenges the Government has faced, including the March 15 terror attack, the White Island eruption, Cyclone Gabrielle, Covid-19 and the recent fatal hostel fire in Wellington.
“Every time this Government has responded, it has been with compassion and kindness.”
He told a brief story about Hipkins in Kaikohe, Northland, for Waitangi Day – chatting with residents while partaking in a local delicacy from Len’s Pies.
“It wasn’t staged, just Chippy being himself. No need for [artificial intelligence],” Davis joked, a shot at National over its use of AI in social media posts.
However, Act was Davis’ primary target, saying they would prefer to imprison Māori and go back to a “one-size-fits-all model that has proven not to work”.
“Their value system is the antithesis of ours.”
He followed his comments with critiques of “negative National”, saying the party would evict tenants for no reason and scrap Labour’s removal of the $5 prescription charge.
“We are being judged by an Opposition that operates under a different world view and values but I’m positive and I have hope for the future.”
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