MP promises a marathon effort
November 26 is going to be here before he knows it.
For Mana MP Kris Faafoi, the time since he triumphed at the by-election late last year has been somewhat stop-start.
‘‘I was keen to hit the ground running, but only had a few weeks before Parliament went into recess.
‘‘I did manage to have a holiday, but it’s fair to say I did a lot of time thinking about the year ahead. Now we’re into it.’’
The coming months will be a tumultuous time for the newest of Labour’s MPs, with his work in Parliament combining with committed Mondays and Fridays in Mana. Weekends are often taken up with events.
It’s not easy for someone with a young family, but he went into his new career with eyes wide open.
‘‘This is what I wanted to do and I see it as a privilege – people in Mana voted me to look after their interests and I see it as a priority to be available to them and find out how I can help. It’s important to be out there.
‘‘I’m enjoying the atmosphere of the House, and I’m learning a lot, but everything I do comes back to my electorate.’’
Despite National’s Hekia Parata making substantial inroads into the Labour majority at the by-election – Mana has always been considered a safe ‘red’ seat, where Winnie Laban once held a 6000 majority – Mr Faafoi says they were ‘‘really happy’’ with the win and 2011 is about consolidation.
It is unlikely Matt McCarten will be on the ballot papers come November 26, which is expected to return votes to Labour, but Mr Faafoi says they will be taking nothing for granted.
He says planning has already started for the general election, ‘‘mapping out where we need to be’’. ‘‘Things could have gone wrong but they didn’t. ‘‘We had a big operation out there on the day [last November] and we celebrated that night because we won.
‘‘It’s now important that we stay in touch with the community, continue to advocate for them and I just need to get on and be the MP. This is not a sprint, but a marathon.’’
He anticipates the same issues will be on voters’ minds later this year, like rising unemployment, job security, the tax cuts and rising cost of living.
But Mr Faafoi also believes recent decisions by National will play a big part – such as partselling state assets and cuts to early childhood education.
‘‘The battle lines have been drawn. When National came in in 2008 there was the promise of a brighter future but there’s a lot of doom and gloom, ordinary people are struggling to cope while the top [income] bracket get the big tax cuts.
‘‘This election will come down to the party that voters think care for them more.’’
He says in Opposition you can’t just rail against what the Government is doing, but provide solutions yourself. Things such as taking the GST off fresh fruit and vegetables is one policy already unveiled, with others to follow in the coming months.
Full-steam ahead: As Kris Faafoi attempts to shore up support in the Mana electorate before the 2011 general election, he says confidence is high within Labour’s ranks that they will be the next Government.