Annette King: Andrew Little a 'no frills' leader
Labour can defeat National at next year's general election and Andrew Little is the "no frills" leader who will carry the party to victory, his deputy says.
The caucus is united and focused in a way not seen since Helen Clark led Labour to victory in three successive elections, Annette King told delegates as the party's annual conference in Auckland comes to a close.
"Andrew is no frills. He is what you see. He's a straight talker, a determined fighter, a man of principle," she said.
"Andrew has said we are ambitious. We are ambitious for all New Zealanders. We want Kiwis to get ahead and fulfill their ambitions whether it's in business, in sport or in the community."
Employment has been a feature of the three-day event attended by hundreds of the party faithful, and that theme is expected to continue when Mr Little takes to the stage later on Sunday.
The party released its Future of Work Commission report on Saturday, making more than 60 policy recommendations, with those featuring education and training likely to take priority in adopted as policy according to commission head and finance spokesman Grant Robertson.
Ms King hinted that youth would also be a focus.
"We also want opportunities for the 74,000 young New Zealanders who are not in employment, education or training.
"Bill English called them pretty damn hopeless, John Key called them lazy and drug addicts. You're soon going to hear from Andrew what our policies are because we are not going to cast them on the scrap heap of life."
Some of the recommendations on the table include a proposal to provide six weeks free training to employees made redundant by technological advances and automation and a levy on businesses who turn to overseas skilled workers to resolve shortages rather than training people already in New Zealand to do the work.
But the recommendations haven't got a thumbs up from everyone.
BusinessNZ says the proposed non-training levy would be a blunt instrument that would not fix skills shortages.
"The underlying problem is that many employers can't get New Zealand staff, whether skilled or unskilled - and if they can't get them, they can't train them," chief executive Kirk Hope said.