Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Cunliffe set to tackle insurers

His announcement is believed to be aimed at addressing the level of foreign ownership in the insurance market, boosting competition in the industry & improving the standard of service. Photo/NZ Herald
His announcement is believed to be aimed at addressing the level of foreign ownership in the insurance market, boosting competition in the industry & improving the standard of service. Photo/NZ Herald

Labour leader David Cunliffe is expected to announce a new policy to set up a state-owned or state-backed insurance company in his speech to the Labour conference today.

Mr Cunliffe is at his first annual conference as party leader this weekend in Christchurch. He is understood to be focusing on the insurance industry when he gives his address - a topical issue because of problems with insurance payouts and refusals to offer new insurance in Christchurch since the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

His announcement is understood to be aimed at addressing the level of foreign ownership in the insurance market, boosting competition in the industry and improving the standard of service.

NZ First leader Winston Peters floated the idea of a state insurer at his party conference last month, saying the same problems existed now as when State Insurance - now owned by an Australian company - was set up by the Government after the Napier earthquake.

Mr Cunliffe spoke briefly at the conference opening last night - his first time speaking to the membership since the leadership run-off against Grant Robertson and Shane Jones in September.

About 70 per cent of the party's wider membership backed Mr Cunliffe in that contest, under new rules giving them a vote.

Earlier in the day, delegates voted on a change to the policy framework to make Labour's policy on raising superannuation to 67 more flexible, by removing the age. They also voted in favour of making te reo Maori compulsory in schools.

Another proposal from the party's Maori Council for the next Labour Government to apologise for the Foreshore and Seabed Act was voted down - possibly because Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson spent much of the day calling on them via Twitter and a press release to pass it.

- NZ Herald

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