Patrick Gower: Housing is Andrew Little's big shot at glory

OPINION: Andrew Little kicked off his speech with some Kiwi tunes from Shapeshifter.

But if he wants a shot at being Prime Minister he needs much more than some good music to shift the polls Labour's way.

That is why he hit housing so hard in his address to Labour's conference.

Labour's election emphasis is clear: housing, housing - and more housing.

Today's theme was "getting a fair shot".

Little mentioned "fair shot" over and over.

He spoke of "a place to call home, a place to raise your children - the Kiwi dream" - and says getting a "fair shot" at that house is fading.

So going negative on property speculators and removing the tax loophole around negative gearing was all about "levelling the playing field".

He wants to "get the property speculators out of the way", and is putting himself on the side of first-home buyers and families.

Putting the increased tax it gets from banning negative gearing towards making warmer dryer homes means Little gets a bit of extra bang for his housing policy buck.

Labour obviously wants to make housing its strength.

It is a good tactic - it is National's true weakness. The tone-deaf brain-fart by associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro shows how out-of-touch National is on the issue.

One interesting aspect of today was what wasn't in the speech - immigration.

Little is planning cut tens of thousands of immigrants - and thousands of international students.

But the speech had no mention whatsoever of immigration.

The party faithful are clearly nervous - it was left to finance spokesman Grant Robertson to explain that halting immigration is not about race.

Immigration is total political dynamite and any mention by Little would have superseded the housing talk so it is easy to see why it was kept on the backburner - for now.

It has the ability to super-charge Labour's message on housing - but just not in front of the party faithful.

Today, Labour and Little's strategy became clear - housing is his big shot at election year glory.