Labour Party celebrates 100 years

This weekend, the Labour Party is celebrating 100 years. The Labour Party began in 1916 although it was not until 1935 that they became the government.

One of the reasons that the men formed the Labour Party during World War I was because they did not want conscription. During this war, and again during World War II, NZ brought in conscription. This was compulsory enrolment for military training (for men from age 18) and then soldiers were sent overseas to support Britain during those two wars.

But the Labour Party was always more than that. It was a left-wing party, and a supporter of trade unions and workers. In 1935, the first Labour government brought in social welfare – free health care, benefits for the sick, elderly and unemployed, and they built the first state houses. There have been four Labour governments in those hundred years. In the 1980s, under the Prime Minister David Lange, NZ became a nuclear-free country.

Andrew Little is the Leader of the Labour Party at the moment. He says that if their party wins the election next year, they will go back to building state houses for homeless people and will build cheaper houses for first home buyers.

Vocabulary

• state houses – the government pays to build these houses which are rented to people at cheaper rates
• nuclear-free – NZ does not allow nuclear-armed ships into our harbours






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