Andrew Little rocketed out of the traps in his first fortnight in office, including landing repeated blows on the Prime Minister over his office’s dealings with attack blogger Cameron Slater and calling for the State Services Commissioner to step down.
That was alongside allocating shadow portfolios, giving a host of interviews and spearheading plans for a Future of Work Commission to work with New Zealanders to develop long-term policies for creating new jobs.
Andrew tells Labour Voices that, while the leadership is a big step up in intensity from the mid-benches, he’s thriving on the pressure and looking forward to his key priority for next year – getting out around the country to meet as many people as possible.
“It’s been a pretty full-on first fortnight but I’m thoroughly enjoying it – I really can’t put it any other way. You say could I’ve been fortunate in the issues that have arisen – particularly the total failure of judgement around Roger Sutton’s resignation and the report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security into the release of information by the SIS.
“That’s not quite how I’d describe it. The Inspector-General’s report has shown the extent of what has been happening in John Key’s office and its relationship with a vicious attack blogger. The fact that it’s happening in the highest ministerial office is deeply disturbing.
“I’m not afraid to tackle issues head-on. My style has always been to be unequivocal and clear in my messages. People have told me they want to know where we stand. I think the way I’ve confronted the Prime Minister and Government makes that pretty obvious.
“I’m not a person who is easily prone to stress so I’m just taking it all in my stride. Inevitably, my job is much more intensive now and there’s a greater level of demand on my time. I’ve been working quite late, even in a non-sitting week. The first weekend I had to be in Auckland so didn’t get to see my family at all but I had more time with them last weekend, which was cool.
“There’s been a lot going on at the same time as getting used to a new role, but I’m lucky to have a great team around me. The staff here are very good so I’ve been really well supported.
“I’ve received a huge amount of feedback from Labour supporters and the public. I welcome it all – the constructive, and the critical. It’s been pouring in through email and Facebook. Please keep it coming, even if I might not always have the chance to respond.
“During the leadership campaign the overwhelming message from Party members was that they wanted to see the caucus acting cohesively – as a good strong team looking ready to take on the Government and to be in Government.
“Over the past three years, we have not defined ourselves very clearly and people have also made it clear they want us to review our policies. We have not had time in caucus yet to have the big discussions but that’s a key priority for the New Year.
“There needs to be a lot of discussion within the Party. We need to have a clear view of what Labour stands for and what our priorities are.
“One of the biggest challenges is going to be keeping the public interested in what Labour is doing for the next three years. We’ve got off to a strong start but now we need to ensure we keep up the pace and talk to people in ways that ensure they continue to listen to us.
“One of my main priorities for 2015 will be getting out around the country and meeting as many people as possible – I’ll be going out to places where I can meet people in their own space, whether it’s a club or a workplace. I want to hear what their priorities are, what issues they face and what they have to say about the Party.
“My Labour values are that I want New Zealand to be a country where people know they can get a job, earn a reasonable wage and live in comfort. I want people to be able to gain skills and make choices throughout their working lives that allow them to continue to live with dignity.
“That has to be the priority. It is what Labour is about - giving people a decent home, a livelihood and, ultimately, the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
“I’m also looking forward to meeting every LEC – there’s already an orderly queue forming. Our members and supporters are the lifeblood of our party and I want to catch up with as many as I can. We are at the beginning of a three-year period and this is where we begin to prepare ourselves for 2017.”
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