Little prepared to negotiate on Healthy Homes Bill

Labour leader Andrew Little (Getty)
Labour leader Andrew Little (Getty)

Labour leader Andrew Little's hoping the "good two or three weeks" he's had are a sign of things to come.

Yesterday his Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill passed its first reading 61-60, the deciding vote falling to United Future's Peter Dunne.

Mr Little didn't know beforehand whether Mr Dunne was going to back it, and isn't taking his support for granted.

"We've got to get through the select committee process, and Peter Dunne -- fair enough -- has raised issues he wants to see addressed, which is about the potential cost and affordability for landlords. We'll work through that," Mr Little told Paul Henry this morning.

"There's some good experts around that are telling us things that could be done, particularly when it comes to heating."

Getting landlords to install permanent, safe heating into their rentals has been a sticking point, with the National Party saying it'll cost too much and raise rents. Mr Little is open to compromise, particularly if it means the Bill can pass with unanimous support.

"My background is in negotiation and trying to get to an agreement that we can all live with. I've put the flag out to the National Party. I've said, 'We've got the numbers, we've got it through -- wouldn't it be great if we could come up with a piece of legislation that every MP could live with and be satisfied about, and is going to make a difference and give us homes that aren't going to make our kids sick. If we get to that point, I'd be really chuffed."

If Mr Little's successful, it'll come into effect late next year -- around the same time as the next general election.  

A Newshub poll last month put Labour at 26 percent, but Mr Little says he feels like the party's bouncing back already.

"After that bad poll result we had a good discussion amongst the caucus. I kind of laid out what I thought was unnecessary. In a sense it was a bit of an unleashing of me; there's things I wanted to get done, a bit of a style I wanted to adopt. I've been able to do that and I feel a level of confidence now that perhaps I haven't had for a wee while," he explained.

"I said at the beginning of my leadership that we wouldn't bark at every passing car. I think by the time we got to the beginning of this year, we were pretty much barking at every passing car. I wanted us to focus on what the priorities are for us, and housing is one of those important priorities.

"You've got to have decent housing if you want to perform well in your job, do well at school, those things that actually give you a chance to get ahead. So we are being clearer, sticking with the issues that are core to us as a party and that define who we are."

Mr Little also recently completed a trip to Iraq and refugee camps in Jordan, which he says strengthened his resolve to double New Zealand's refugee quota to 1500.

Prime Minister John Key appears to be listening, saying on Tuesday there is a "very real chance" it could happen, after years of ignoring calls from Labour, the Greens and NGOs such as Amnesty International.