This afternoon could have been Labour and the Greens’ golden opportunity to present themselves as a united government-in-waiting to the New Zealand public.
The crowd was there — literally hundreds of people from all different walks of life turned up to see what Labour and the Greens had to offer.
In fact, the hall became so full that event organisers had no choice but send any additional arrivals outside to watch from the courtyard.
Inside, the mood was one of uniformity as Labour and Green supporters united over their shared desire to change the government.
Shortly after 2pm, Guy Williams took to the stage as MC and got right into sledging John Key, something which just 12 months ago would have seen a left wing audience cheering and clapping — but this time it was different.
An awkward silence broke out as he waited to see if anyone would applaud his joke about John Key’s holiday home in Hawaii, and it soon became obvious that the audience were not interested in sledging the former Prime Minister.
Metiria Turei then took to the stage and rattled off a mixtape of the Greens’ press releases from the last 3 years.
And then it was Andrew Little’s turn — the audience roared with excitement as the Labour Leader was introduced as “the next Prime Minister of New Zealand.”
The lady behind me yelled “please, please tell us how you’re going to fix the housing crisis.”
The former union leader began by telling a few stories from the time he spent with his teenage son Cam on the Otago Rail Trail over Christmas — and provided a rare insight into his personal life.
The audience laughed as Little revealed it is possible for teenagers to survive for more than 10 hours without access to WiFi. If Little was trying to take a leaf out of Key’s book by coming across as personable, it seemed to be working.
But it quickly became evident too, that Little wasn’t here to announce or explain any policy. Rather, he had come to remind the audience of the long list of “failures” by John Key, Bill English and the National Party.
Little continued to speak for 25 minutes and themed his speech based around the battles he’s fought both personally and professionally.
He told the audience of his personal struggle with prostate cancer and told the audience that the last Labour Government fixed the health system after National tried to wreck it in the 1990s.
But he had no plan. What will his Labour/Green Government do?
There were no numbers, no time frame and no promises to the New Zealand public.
And in doing so, Little failed to sell himself as a Prime Minister in waiting with a comprehensive plan to solve issues like housing that the present Government has been unable solve thus far.
I guess it’s a waiting game. Fact is, we could be waiting a long while yet for anything worthwhile to come out of this camp.