MP prom­ises a marathon ef­fort

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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