Labour conference to focus on future
By Sarah Robson
The Labour Party will be hoping to shake off some of the demons of last year's election defeat when it gathers in Palmerston North this weekend for its annual conference.
But leader Andrew Little says rather than dwelling on the past too much, party members will be focused on the road ahead.
"There's a bit of clearing the decks and getting ourselves ready so we can embark on the phase next year, which is about the new policy development and the big ideas that we'll take into the 2017 election," he told NZ Newswire.
There will be a couple of "reasonably modest" policy announcements at the conference, but no big-ticket game-changing promises just yet.
"People aren't thinking about elections at the moment," Mr Little said.
"I think people want to see that we are sorting ourselves out, getting ourselves ready. I don't think there's huge expectation that suddenly we're going to come up with the answers to the world's problems."
While the policy sessions are closed to the media, Mr Little expects there will be, and should be, some debate about a couple of the party's more contentious 2014 election pledges - including raising the age of eligibility for superannuation and introducing a capital gains tax - behind closed doors.
However, he'll be standing by his call, which he made during last year's leadership race, to drop them both from Labour's election manifesto in 2017.
"I think people expect us to be realistic and perhaps be realistic in the sense that maybe there are some policies that are too complex, that it's just not possible to master while we're in opposition," Mr Little said.
"It doesn't mean to say we don't still have the problems those policies represent, but I'm not sure we've been able to sell the message about them and I think it's time to just put them on the backburner."
Mr Little will deliver his keynote speech at the conference on Sunday afternoon.