3 Nov 2013

Christchurch housing plan on Labour's agenda

10:03 pm on 3 November 2013

The Labour Party has pledged to put more resources into solving Christchurch's housing problems if it leads the next government.

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe announced the policy at the party's annual conference in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon.

Houses, street corner.

Photo: RNZ

If Labour is elected to power next year, it says it would build 10,000 affordable homes in Christchurch in the first four years of its KiwiBuild policy.

"They're going to be high quality homes, they're going to be sold to first home buyers, they're going to expand supply in the market and they're going to help bring rents and prices down", says Mr Cunliffe.

The KiwiBuild policy, which has already been announced, involves building 100,000 affordable homes across the country over the next 10 years.

Labour would also fast-track the rebuild in New Brighton, working with the city council, local businesses and communities to revitalise the suburb and free up space for as many as 700 new homes.

It would also investigate using habitable red zone land and properties as a stop-gap measure for accommodation to help take pressure off rents.

Mr Cunliffe says there is a housing crisis in Christchurch and it's time the Government acknowledged that.

He says the National Party has ignored the problem and Labour is prepared to take action to deal with the crisis.

Female quota

Also at the conference, the Labour Party voted to support the introduction of a quota that will eventually lead to half its caucus being made up of women.

President Moira Coatsworth says the quota would mean a target of at least 45% of women in its caucus by 2014 and 50% by 2017.

She says women currently make up about 51% of New Zealand's population but Parliament does not represent that.

"It's 120 years this month since women got the vote in New Zealand but we still only have less than a third of women in the New Zealand Parliament," she says.

Ms Coatsworth says the Labour caucus is already 41% women but it wants to do better.

Delegates told to keep campaigning for change of Govt

The Labour Party leader told delegates they have to keep campaigning if Labour is to lead the next government.

David Cunliffe says New Zealanders needed a change of government and he made this plea to the delegates: "We must work, we must win and we must serve, I ask you now to join with me in becoming the sixth Labour government."

Moira Coatsworth says the conference has been a success and the party is ready to fight next year's election but first it must win the Christchurch East by-election.

She has warned delegates the by-election would not be easy.

Ms Coatsworth says at the last general election the National Party won a bigger share of the party vote and since the earthquakes many of Labour's supporters have left the electorate.

But she says Labour is in good heart, the party has nearly double the membership it had last year and people are committed to getting a change of government.

Labour won't support TPP if it constrains domestic regulations

The Labour Party will not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal if it constrains the ability of governments to regulate domestic industries.

Conference delegates voted in favour of a union-sponsored proposal that Labour take a more cautious approach to the trans-Pacific trade negotiations.

Labour's deputy leader David Parker says as an example Meridian Energy is now partly owned overseas and the proposed trade deal should not prevent a Government from regulating the electricity industry.

He says if New Zealand's sovereignty is protected and there are clear benefits then Labour would support the deal.