Sticking by Mt Albert
Former Labour Party leader David Shearer has stepped down from the top job but has no plans to abandon his Mt Albert electorate.
‘‘I live here so I am part of the community,’’ he says.
‘‘I got into politics believing that I could make a difference, and I can.’’
Mr Shearer was elected to represent Mt Albert in the 2009 byelection after the seat was vacated by Helen Clark.
He says his troubled time at the party helm has not dampened his enthusiasm to keep working at a grass roots level.
A hastened redevelopment of shopping areas is among his top priorities.
‘‘Particularly at Pt Chevalier and Mt Albert,’’ he says.
‘‘They could really do with some uplifting. In the past they have been community centres and I’d really like to see them come back again.
‘‘Sandringham has been able to reinvent itself and so has Kingsland in a different way. But I think Mt Albert and Pt Chevalier in particular could really do with a bit of a facelift.’’
Mr Shearer kept a relatively low profile in the build up to David Cunliffe’s selection as party leader on Sunday.
‘‘Because of the process I said that I would step out of the way and it just gave them a clearer run.
‘‘Being the leader is an enormous demand on your time – it’s literally a 70 plus hour a week job.
‘‘Having been at home for longer than two or three days has been quite nice for the family and my kids.
‘‘My wife drew me up a list of things she wanted me to do that I haven’t been doing for the last two years, so I’ve been doing a bit of that.
‘‘I’ve always been pretty connected but with a bit more time I can get behind a few of the issues perhaps more than I did before.’’
Mr Shearer is unsure about what kind of portfolio he might like to take on.
‘‘Having come out of being the leader for that amount of time you have a unique perspective on things that you don’t get by just being an ordinary member.
‘‘For me the two big issues facing New Zealand are needing to diversify the economy away from just milk powder and commodities and make it a more research and creative economy so that will keep people here,’’ he says.
‘‘The second thing is about nar- rowing the gap between the rich and the rest.
‘‘If I could work in a portfolio that addressed one or both of those issues that’s what I would like to do.’’