Jacinda Ardern will today outline some of the areas the Government plans to target in a massive boost to infrastructure spending - and schools throughout New Zealand are likely to be top of the list.

The Prime Minister will set out some of her priorities at her main speech to the Labour Party conference in Whanganui.

The infrastructure spending is expected to be in the billions and other areas of spending will be announced on December 11 when the Government releases the 2020 Budget Policy Statement.

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The education sector was the big winner from Ardern's conference speech a year ago as well in a $200 million announcement of operations spending for education support workers.

The conference elected a new president, 41-year-old executive Claire Szabo, whose main rival was senior Māori vice-president Tane Phillips.

But the conference yesterday was Grant Robertson's day. In one of the few open sessions, the Finance Minister announced a borrow-and-spend programme on infrastructure to take advantage of historically low interest rates.

Grant Robertson talks capital investment at the Labour conference in Whanganui. Video / Audrey Young

"New Zealanders are rightly proud of the work being done in building up our schools, hospitals and transport networks ... we prioritised these investments because they are the ones that needed to be made after so many years of neglect. But looking forward, we believe now is the right time to build on Labour's legacy and build on the record of this Government.

"Right now we can borrow at an interest rate of 1.3 per cent for 10 years."

Only two years ago, the rate was 3 per cent.

Robertson also promised to give the construction industry greater certainty about the pipeline of transport projects from 18 months' time.

"We will give that certainty."

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Maori Senior Vice-President Tane Phillips. Photo / Jason Walls
Maori Senior Vice-President Tane Phillips. Photo / Jason Walls

He said the Cabinet had signed off the infrastructure boost – which is bound to contain some sweeteners for Coalition partners New Zealand First and confidence and supply partners the Greens.

Most of the conference, including policy remits, has been closed to the media amid sensitivity over possible fallout from a controversial year in which former president Nigel Haworth was forced to resign.

Ardern had made it clear she had lost confidence in Haworth through his handling of a sexual assault complaint against a party volunteer and parliamentary staffer.

Minister Poto Williams took a session for delegates at the conference on how to ensure that staffers - and particularly hundreds of volunteers - are safe in their work and that there were clear channels of complaint if required.

One of the highlights of the day was a humorous speech by Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis who told the story of the Coalition in the style of a legend, and which featured National as the taniwha, of "blue darkness v the light" and Shane Jones as someone who fancied himself as Maui.

Council of Trade Union President Richard Wagstaff. Photo / Audrey Young
Council of Trade Union President Richard Wagstaff. Photo / Audrey Young

Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff spoke as well and was mainly complimentary about the Government.

But he made a plea for a hurry-up on the introduction of Fair Pay Agreements –
which are proposed industry-wide agreements similar to the old awards for low-paid industries.

"FPAs will drive a stake through the heart of our commodified labour market that deregulated with the [Employment Contracts Act] and has never fully recovered," he said.

In a veiled message to New Zealand First, Wagstaff said he could not think of a "better way of demonstrating our commitment to put a human face on capitalism right now."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said in October 2017 that putting a human face on capitalism was one of the reasons his party had gone with Labour over National.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson with his mother, Yvonne, from Dunedin at the Labour conference in Whanganui. Photo / Supplied
Finance Minister Grant Robertson with his mother, Yvonne, from Dunedin at the Labour conference in Whanganui. Photo / Supplied