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Labour will focus on 'real issues', Goff says

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

By Peter Wilson of NZPA

Wellington, Oct 15 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff will tell his party's annual conference on Sunday that it is time to get back to basics, focus on the issues that really matter and start closing in on National.

He says Labour is going to need to set out clear alternatives ahead of next year's general election in areas that really worry people, like the cost of living going up faster than wages and unemployment increasing instead of decreasing as the Government promised it would.

"I want to make some pointers about where we're going and what we need to do to get there," he told NZPA.

"People don't fall for the spin that the vast majority are better off when they know that's not happening in their own lives.

"And that creates the basis for Labour to go out and talk about the things that are worrying's about whether their incomes can be stretched to meet their costs, whether their jobs are safe, what their rights in the workplace are, whether it's going to cost them $20 or $30 a week extra for early childhood education."

Mr Goff said voters knew Labour had a better track record than National on those issues and the party had to bring the focus back to them.

Labour has trailed National in the opinion polls by around 20 points in most surveys, stuck in the low 30 percent range while National maintains support at more than 50 percent, but Mr Goff said there were indications that was changing.

"The latest Roy Morgan poll showed Labour nearly reaching 37 percent and the Greens on 8 percent," he said.

"So Labour and the Greens had a total of 45 percent and National was on 49 percent -- that's within striking distance."

Mr Goff said the party wasn't limiting its ambitions to making it into the high 30 percent range, but he thought getting there was "absolutely possible".

He will tell the conference Labour has a strong core of support and must widen its appeal, which he acknowledges isn't easy in opposition.

"During the first two years of a new government, it makes all the running," he said.

"But the media has an obligation to come back to a better balance in an election year.

"I think some close scrutiny of what the Government is doing rather than just the public relations photos in the papers will see New Zealanders wondering where they have actually moved to in the last two years -- the Department of Labour says half the people haven't had a wage rise and the Department of Statistics says people on the average wage are $9 a week worse off than they were a year ago."

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