Im­mi­gra­tion MP’s driv­ing force

Hamilton Press - - CONVERSATIONS - KEL­LEY TANTAU

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.

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