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Leadership contenders speeches revealed

11:24 Wed Dec 7 2011

Labour's leadership contenders are telling party members why they should be chosen and one of them is using an OECD report on inequality in New Zealand to make his case.

David Shearer and David Cunliffe have posted their speeches to closed party meetings on Labour's website.

Mr Shearer says the report, which shows inequality in New Zealand is growing at a faster rate than in any other developed country, delivers evidence that many people are locked into poor opportunities.

"The most powerful tool to bring every New Zealander into the circle of opportunity is to give people skills, starting with children before they even start school, and all the way through to work," he says.

Mr Shearer is promising party members he'll urgently rebuild Labour, especially in places where voters deserted the party in the election.

"If we are honest, we have to accept some of our connections to communities have frayed over time and we need to renew them."

Mr Cunliffe says Labour must rebuild its relationship with working families, middle income earners and small businesses.

"Those most disadvantaged should also feel Labour is their political home - right now these people don't think it is and many did not turn out to vote," he says.

"We must earn the confidence of New Zealanders, we must reach out to communities we have lost touch with."

The contenders will continue to speak at party meetings around the country for the rest of the week and the caucus will decide their fate on Tuesday.

Mr Shearer holds the most support in the 34-member caucus, which Mr Cunliffe has admitted, but eight or 10 MPs are undecided.