R M Cullen
MD MSc MFM BA DipStats DipProfEthics
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The New Zealand Labour party was founded in 1916, as an unashamedly socialist party. It wanted "the socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange". The party repesented wage earners and was the political wing of the union movement. Its members fell into two groups - "affiliate members" who were members of trade unions affiliated to the labour party, and "general members" who belonged to local labour party branches.
The first labour government, which was in power from 1935-1949, was a government of reform as this quote from the encyclopedia of NZ demonstrates
In the pre-war period Labour was openly socialist in its political aims. It began to nationalise large sections of the economy, including the Bank of New Zealand, coal mines and domestic air services. Broadcasting and transport were brought under the control of government ministers. To stimulate New Zealand’s depressed economy, Labour increased wage rates, launched a programme of public works and state-housing construction, and introduced a guaranteed price for dairy products. The Social Security Act 1938 greatly expanded the scope of the welfare state, introducing universal free health services and extending benefits for the aged, sick and unemployed.
The socialist objective was formally abandoned in 1951.
The fourth labour government, under David Lange, absolutely and irrevocably betrayed the workers through the free market reforms of Roger Douglas. The party's economic policy moved sharply to the right of that of the National party.