So, the Labour Party has finally made a big policy move. With yesterday’s announcement of policy to tackle the huge student debt that has gone from N.Z.$4 billion in 2001, to $10 billion in 2008 when National took office, to just over $15 billion today it has finally been recognized that a decade and a half of wonky tertiary education policy is not addressing one of the biggest causes of debt in New Zealand.
But Labour’s policy announcement is so much more than that. Even three weeks ago, I was wondering what it would take for Labour to make a significant policy release. And even three days ago with Labour Leader Andrew Little having to haul in David Shearer for supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership, one might have wondered about the party’s internal stability. And whilst there is still considerable cause for concern, I am just for the next 24 hours going to allow Labour a word of congratulations at releasing what looks like a great policy.
So, well done Labour. I think you understand that the election is still possibly 18-21 months away, but you also understood that New Zealand was looking to see if Labour was capable of doing anything bold and original. You understood that the time to show some leadership was now. 18-21 months is still quite a bit of time to go until an election and much could happen in the interim, but your move has given Labourites a reason to believe in their party; centre-left New Zealand something to cheer about and – with a bit of luck – National something to make it realize it is not the only party in the game of who governs New Zealand.