Even our detractors concede that Labour is the party of big ideas. Throughout modern New Zealand’s history, Labour has led on change that matters. Our achievements include free education, the forty hour week, first woman MP and Cabinet Minister, New Zealand’s nuclear free status, four weeks holiday pay, the minimum wage, marriage equality, settling treaty claims, KiwiSaver, KiwiBank, creating state housing, joining the United Nations and much more besides.
I am proud of what Labour stands for and the achievements wrought by successive Labour Governments.
From September 19 to 25 I will be joining others celebrating Labour in Dunedin. We’ve rented a public space and will host a 100th anniversary exhibition in the Dunedin Community Art Gallery just off the Octagon in Princes Street. The exhibition marks the founding and history of Labour—New Zealand’s oldest political party.
Much of the history will be local. Dunedin was an early and influential centre of activity for the Labour Party, and has remained so. Social change and the rights of working people have long been championed from the South. In the very first Labour Government, Gervan McMillan of Dunedin and Arnold Nordmeyer of Oamaru led social change that remains with us today. Together they implemented many important aspects of our world-leading welfare state, including the creation of New Zealand’s public hospital system.
Dunedin is a Labour city. The Dunedin North electorate that I represent has only once fallen out of Labour hands since World War Two. And Dunedin has provided many influential cabinet ministers, including Sir Michael Cullen, who was a history lecturer at Otago University long before he became The Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister in the last Labour government.
September is a time to celebrate Labour’s proud history—before we look to the election year ahead, and campaign to retain Dunedin’s support. I hope you will join me sometime during the week—at the Community Art Gallery, 20 Princes Street.