The Labour Party conference has opened in Wellington with the party's president Moira Coatsworth promising bold policies to turn around Labour's fortunes.
In notes for a speech to party faithful at Wellington's town hall, Ms Coatsworth said Labour would campaign on the issues that worried New Zealanders, including the rising cost of living, asset sales, giving children the best start in life and decent jobs.
"Our polls are rising. We need to turn out 2000 more party votes per electorate and we are determined."
Around 500 party delegates are in Wellington for the conference which comes hard on the heels of an unpopular budget which cut KiwiSaver and Working for Families entitlements from some families and has been panned for the lack of impetus behind plans for economic growth.
Ms Coatsworth said the dramatic rise in the cost of living was plunging many homes into hardship.
"And we see nothing being done about it. The reality is that the answer to the growing crisis of hardship and inequality is the same as it was 80 years ago: good, decent jobs, warm and affordable housing, the opportunity to train and learn and get new skills – the skills of a modern, healthy, wealthy nation.
Ms Coatsworth stressed the environment as one of the major policy areas to address and reversing inequality as the other.
"The current government's policies now continue to increase inequality at an alarming rate. Billions of dollars in tax cuts are going to the rich, while ordinary families struggle to feed their children healthy food or take them to a doctor at night or in the weekend. Many families have gone hungry as they choose between paying the school fees, buying the uniforms or putting kai on the table."
New Zealand needed a coherent plan for economic recovery.
"As well as the environment, the recession, the Christchurch earthquakes, spiralling youth unemployment, the cost of living and our debt burden all require bold responses.
"Labour understands we have a huge opportunity to use our reputation, our skills and our technology to transform our economy. We know that this economy includes exports and high value production. It is a knowledge economy. It includes rebuilding savings, reducing debt and maintaining our independence as a nation. It includes living the living standards of all New Zealanders and it means doing this in ways that really are clean and green."
- Acknowledgements: Stuff.co.nz