Andrew Little (New Zealand politician)

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Andrew Little
Andrew Little, 2016.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for the Labour Party List
Assumed office
26 November 2011
Leader of the Opposition
In office
18 November 2014 – 1 August 2017
Deputy Jacinda Ardern
Preceded by David Cunliffe
Succeeded by Jacinda Ardern
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
18 November 2014 – 1 August 2017
Deputy Jacinda Ardern
Preceded by David Cunliffe
Succeeded by Jacinda Ardern
President of the Labour Party
In office
2 March 2009 – 2 April 2011
Vice President Moira Coatsworth
Preceded by Mike Williams
Succeeded by Moira Coatsworth
Personal details
Born Andrew James Little
(1965-05-07) 7 May 1965 (age 52)
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Leigh Fitzgerald (2008–present)
Children 1
Alma mater Victoria University of Wellington
Website Party profile

Andrew James Little (born 7 May 1965) is a New Zealand politician and former trade union official who was Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 18 November 2014 to 1 August 2017. He has been a Labour Member of Parliament since 2011. Previously he was the national secretary of New Zealand's largest trade union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), and he was President of the Labour Party from 2009 to 2011.

Early life[edit]

Born in New Plymouth on 7 May 1965,[1] Little was educated at New Plymouth Boys' High School. His father was a devout National Party supporter and Little recalls delivering National pamphlets under his father's direction when he was younger.[2] When he was 17, Little got his first job as a labourer digging the main cable trench for a new methanol plant in Waitara Valley as part of the "Think Big" project. During his time there he noticed that the contractor he was working for was deliberately using a less than adequate amount of concrete than the work required. He finished work here at the beginning of 1984 and left upon being accepted to enter university.[3]

In the 1980s he studied law, philosophy and public policy at Victoria University of Wellington, where he became active in the campaign against New Zealand's student loan scheme. He was elected president of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association and later served as New Zealand Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA) president in 1988 and 1989.[4]

Career with trade unions[edit]

After graduating he took a job as a lawyer with the Engineers' Union (a forerunner of the EPMU), with his work including Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and employment law issues.[5] In 1997 he was appointed the union’s general counsel (chief lawyer). Two years later, he was appointed assistant national secretary, and was elected national secretary when Rex Jones stood down from the position in 2000.[6]

In 2007 Little was ranked at number 40 on the New Zealand Listener Power List.[7]

Little became an important extra-parliamentary figure within the Labour Party and was one of the main advisors from the trade unions. Little was a representative on Labour's national council as Affiliates Vice-President, responsible for liaison between the Labour Party and affiliated trade unions.[8] On 2 March 2009 it was announced that Little was elected unopposed as President of the New Zealand Labour Party.[9] He held that post until 2 April 2011.[10]

Member of Parliament (2011–)[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2011–2014 50th List 15 Labour
2014–2017 51st List 11 Labour
2017–present 51st List 3 Labour

Little stood for Parliament in the 2011 general election; despite a loss in the New Plymouth electorate to the National Party incumbent Jonathan Young, he was elected as a list MP owing to his ranking of 15 on the Labour Party list.[11][12]

He took on the ACC portfolio and gained profile during the National Party's restructuring of the organisation.[5] Together with Trevor Mallard, he launched attacks against ACC Minister Judith Collins, who eventually responded with issuing a defamation claim. The affair resulted in the resignations of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) chairman John Judge, and the ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart.[13]

At the 2014 election he again stood and lost in the New Plymouth electorate. Young was returned with a much increased margin, but this was partially explained by boundary changes.[5][14] Little was elected as list MP because of his ranking of 11 on the Labour Party list.[15]

Little introduced a private member's bill in the ballot that, if passed, would create a new criminal offence of corporate manslaughter.[16] The bill was drafted in the wake of the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster and the CTV Building collapse during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[17] The bill is modelled on the United Kingdom's Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Little believes the bill is needed as "the track record of prosecutions under the Health and Safety Act is that they tend to focus on lower level failures because getting the evidence and securing the conviction are easier, but personal responsibility for fatalities goes unchecked."[18] A 2012 3News poll found that seventy-four percent of respondents would like to see a charge of corporate manslaughter introduced.[19]

Leader of the Opposition (2014–2017)[edit]

Little's 'State of the Nation' speech, January 2016

Following Labour's defeat at the general election in September 2014, David Cunliffe resigned as leader of the Labour Party.[20] Little announced his bid for the 2014 Labour Party leadership election on 9 October 2014 and was nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway.[21][22] He won the election, which was held on 18 November 2014, and defeated Grant Robertson, David Parker, and Nanaia Mahuta.[23] The public media focused on his trade union background.[24]

As Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, Little has sought to challenge the Government with a strong alternative narrative. In a 2015 conference speech he introduced a new "Kiwi dream" theme (the New Zealand dream).[24] In 2015 Labour introduced a new slogan, "Backing the Kiwi Dream".[25] Little has largely focused on issues and concerns such as rising house prices in urban areas, a 'brain drain', unemployment and job security and the growing wage gap between baby boomers and millennials—the "Kiwi dream" narrative is particularly designed to engage young voters.[26]

On 30 November 2015 Little reshuffled his shadow cabinet. He appointed 22 MPs and formally ranked the first 12, including several promotions. He also promoted a Maori MP, Nanaia Mahuta, as shadow spokesperson Treaty of Waitangi negotiations. Little said he saw the line-up as a "blueprint" for a Labour cabinet after 2017.[27]

Little has been criticised by some for perceived poor performance in television interviews, his low profile and poor recognition with the general public.[28] A Dominion Post assessment said "he has little charisma and a lack of new ideas" and criticised Labour's "bare platform".[29] He was praised by political commentators early in his leadership for uniting the party caucus and averting the infighting that characterised David Cunliffe's tenure as leader, though at the expense of dropping many of the party's former policy proposals.[28]

In October 2016 Labour floated the idea of a levy on employers who imported offshore skilled labour rather than upskilled their domestic workers. Little responded to criticisms that it amounted to a "tax on immigrants", saying "If we want to make sure we've got the skills for the future ... for those employers who don't take on apprentices, don't invest in training, you can contribute a levy and that'll help to defray the cost of those who are doing the training".[30] Little also criticised the number of travel visas granted to semi-skilled workers, citing statistics. Kirk Hope, Chief Executive of Business New Zealand, criticised the proposal policy and warned that it would affect smaller businesses who are unable to recruit enough local workers.[30]

Little was sued for defamation by Lani and Earl Hagaman after he made statements linking a contract awarded to their company with donations they had made to the National Party. In April 2017, a jury cleared him of some of the charges, and were unable to reach a verdict on others.[31]

On 1 August 2017, Little resigned as Leader of the Labour Party due to the party's history of low results in polls, and was succeeded by deputy leader Jacinda Ardern.[32] Little was later lauded by party supporters for putting aside his personal ambition to allow Ardern to lead the party, which saw a swift reversal of fortune for Labour. His decision has been labeled a "selfless masterstroke" and was praised for his integrity and selflessness.[33]

Cabinet Minister (2017-present)[edit]

Little was elected as a Cabinet Minister by the Labour Party caucus following Labour's formation of a government with New Zealand First and the Greens.[34]

See also[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Little currently lives in Island Bay, Wellington with his wife Leigh and their son.[5][35] He also revealed that he is a cancer survivor.[36]


  1. ^ "Andrew Little". New Zealand Parliament. 6 March 2013. Archived from the original on 6 March 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Young, Audrey (2015-11-08). "Audrey Young: Little smashed it – literally". New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  3. ^ "My Summer Job: Andrew Little, Labour Party Leader". New Zealand Herald. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "New Zealand Union of Students' Associations – General History". NZUSA. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Davison, Isaac (9 October 2014). "Who is Andrew Little? Union chief, lawyer and Gangnam Style dancer". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Little takes union path to leadership". Radio NZ – 18 November 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2017. 
  7. ^ "Clark still most powerful but Key nipping at her heels". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "New Zealand Council Members". Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  9. ^ "Andrew Little elected Labour Party president". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Armstrong, John (2 April 2011). "John Armstrong: On top for now – in a job no one wants". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "Labour Party List 2011". Electoral Commission. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Donnell, Hayden (28 November 2011). "Colourful crop of new MPs heading for Parliament". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "ACC privacy breach timeline". The Dominion Post. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "2014 election results". Electoral Commission. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "2014 General Election Party Lists". Electoral Commission. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Crimes (Corporate Manslaughter) Amendment Bill". NZ Parliament. 2013-12-03. 
  17. ^ "CTV families push for corporate manslaughter law". One News. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Corporate manslaughter charge in new bill". 3News. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Government looking at corporate manslaughter laws". 3News. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  20. ^ Howie, Cherie (27 September 2014). "David Cunliffe resigns as leader". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  21. ^ Trevett, Claire (9 October 2014). "Andrew Little puts hand up for Labour leadership". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Nanaia Mahuta to contest Labour leadership". The New Zealand Herald. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Watkins, Tracy; Fox, Michael; Vance, Andrea (18 November 2014). "Little wins Labour leadership". Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "Can Andrew Little win next year’s election for Labour? A reluctant assessment". The National Business Review. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  25. ^ "Little: Backing The Kiwi Dream – It's Our Future". It's Our Future. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  26. ^ "Labour will not abandon our young people as National has Labour will". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  27. ^ "Little reshuffles shadow cabinet". Radio New Zealand. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  28. ^ a b Edwards, Bryce (20 November 2015). "Political roundup: Where is Andrew Little taking the Labour Party? And how well is he doing it?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  29. ^ "Editorial: Little labours in a policy desert". The Dominion Post. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  30. ^ a b "Labour considers tax on those who hire offshore to fill skilled positions". The National Business Review. 6 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  31. ^ "Little 'very pleased' no damages awarded in defamation case". Radio New Zealand. 10 April 2017. 
  32. ^ "Andrew Little quits: Jacinda Ardern is new Labour leader, Kelvin Davis is deputy". NZ Herald. 1 August 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  33. ^ "Andrew Little - he is the real hero say supporters". NZ Herald. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017. 
  34. ^ "Who's in? Who's out?". Radio NZ. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017. 
  35. ^ Vance, Andrea (22 November 2014). "Andrew Little: A reasonable man". Stuff. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  36. ^ "New Zealand Labour Party". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike Williams
President of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Moira Coatsworth
Preceded by
David Cunliffe
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Jacinda Ardern
Political offices
Preceded by
David Cunliffe
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Jacinda Ardern