Immigration MP’s driving force
He has two more plans he’s ready to promote throughout the next three years: a roading connection between Hamilton and Tauranga, under National’s Roads of National Significance programme, and the proposed Waikato Medical School.
‘‘When I first came in, we had a plan for Hamilton and that involved linking with Auckland, so we did that through the expressway. That was a 10-year project, and it had infrastructure like the hospital, ultra-fast fibre and new schools that were all part of that growth.
‘‘Hamilton now has reached the second stage of its growth plan, which is the next 10 years, and it’s the same deal but with a different city as the focus which is Tauranga.
‘‘The problem is, Labour doesn’t agree with our plan for the second phase of growth for Hamilton. They’ve not committed to the roading, and they can’t, and they’ve not committed to the Med School, and they can’t.
‘‘There’s a possibility on the Med School, but I can’t see them doing it,’’ he said.
‘‘We had the most to lose from the election and that’s going to mean that growth agenda will stall and that’s what is the most disappointing thing for me.’’
In the September election, Bennett secured the Hamilton East seat by 5810 votes, but in lateOctober, a coalition government between Labour and New Zealand First was preferred by NZ First leader Winston Peters.
‘‘It’s actually a difficult emotional ride to go through because if you’d lost the election on the day, you’d just accept it,’’ Bennett said.
‘‘But the way it happened, where we’d actually won the election on the day, but lost because a potential coalition partner had a different point of view, there’s a bit of emotional short change and that will take our team some time to adjust to.’’
But Bennett is optimistic that Peters’ decision is a blessing in disguise.
‘‘Dealing with Winston is not easy,’’ he said.
‘‘And we haven’t gone into a negative state as a party, we’re very strong, so that gives us a good springboard for the future.
‘‘There is a positive vibe in Hamilton and that just doesn’t happen. It reflects real investment and what the government had been doing for the city. If we want to keep that vibe going, we need to keep investing.’’
Hamilton East MP David Bennett stands on the intersection by his Grey St office.