14 Sep 2009

Labour Party faces big financial deficit

2:04 pm on 14 September 2009

The Labour Party ended its conference in Rotorua over the weekend in good heart, but with its finances in a poor state.

Labour's financial report to the conference shows it recorded a deficit last year of $730,000.

The party's president, Andrew Little, says Labour always goes into deficit during election years but says he does not want to understate the seriousness of its financial position.

Mr Little says the party's finances are not sustainable in the long-term and something has to be done to put them on a sounder footing.

More than 500 delegates attended the party's first conference since losing last year's election.

Goff apologises, outlines Labour's future direction

Labour's leader Phil Goff used his speech to the conference in Rotorua to apologise for mistakes the party made in Government but also to outline its future direction.

Mr Goff said Labour had lost touch and it was up to the party to reconnect with others.

He said the party lost the last election because it did not make it clear that its priority was to help ordinary families.

Mr Goff said Labour must focus on jobs, health, education and strong communities.

He said the party must show New Zealanders it is relevant and earn their trust again.

Mr Goff listed the Winston Peters funding saga, the Electoral Finance Act, errant MPs, the child discipline legislation and lightbulbs as sideshows that led to Labour being voted out.

Former deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen says it was important for Mr Goff to indicate that Labour is learning the lessons of the last election.

State power company dividends

Mr Goff told the conference the Government should stop taking large dividends from State-owned power companies while people struggle to pay their bills.

In an address on Sunday, he acknowledged power bills rose relentlessly under the last Labour Government and said Labour was wrong not to fix the system.

Mr Goff said that State-owned power companies should be working for the people.