Stick­ing by Mt Al­bert

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHITTAKER

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.’’

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