Stranger things have hap­pened

Taupo elec­torate Labour can­di­date Jamie Strange con­sid­ers him­self the de­ter­mined un­der­dog head­ing into this year’s gen­eral elec­tion. Pet­rice Tar­rant re­ports.

South Waikato News - - OPINION -

The ‘‘un­der­dog’’ hop­ing to rep­re­sent South Waikato/Taupo in the New Zealand Govern­ment is mak­ing his voice heard.

Hamil­ton res­i­dent Jamie Strange will stand against Na­tional MP Louise Up­ston for the district’s seat in this year’s gen­eral elec­tion.

The 37-year-old Labour party mem­ber said it is time for the South Waikato to see red.

‘‘ A Labour MP would look af­ter, and rep­re­sent all people liv­ing in the South Waikato, rather than just those at the top. Na­tional has stopped lis­ten­ing to New Zealan­ders,’’ he said.

Up­ston has held the ma­jor­ity in the district since 2008 and Strange ad­mit­ted it will not be an easy turnover.

‘‘I am cer­tainly the un­der­dog, but so were the Black Caps in the re­cent test se­ries against In­dia, and all sports fans re­mem­ber what hap­pened there. So who knows – stranger things have hap­pened.’’

The last Labour MP to win the seat was Mark Bur­ton who held the fort from 1996 to 2008.

Strange said the South Waikato needs strong lead­er­ship on is­sues such as le­gal highs.

‘‘The Govern­ment has bun­gled the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances Act. They rushed it through Par­lia­ment and failed to con­sult with lo­cal coun­cils about the role they would have in reg­u­lat­ing le­gal highs. Un­der­stand­ably coun­cils feel they have been put in a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.’’

The fa­ther of four said he sup­ports people like Julie King, who is strongly cam­paign­ing in the district.

And the South Waikato people need an MP who is fa­mil­iar with their strug­gles, he said.

‘‘I be­lieve MPs need to live among the people they rep­re­sent. This is why I would shift into the elec­torate if I win the seat. It’s also best if they have real-life ex­pe­ri­ence of the is­sues people are fac­ing. Many fam­i­lies in the South Waikato are do­ing it tough. The par­ents are work­ing hard, but can’t seem to get ahead.’’

The school teacher said that is one chal­lenge he knows too well.

‘‘My wife and I are get­ting by on one medium-level teacher’s salary. Once you pay for ac­com­mo­da­tion, power, rates, petrol, there is of­ten not a lot left to live on. And when the car breaks down, or you need to visit the den­tist, things can get very tough in­deed.’’

If elected, Labour will raise the min­i­mum wage to $15 per hour im­me­di­ately, and then raise it again in 2015, Strange said.

‘‘ I spent four years on the min­i­mum wage while study­ing in my early 30s. Dur­ing this time my wife and I had two chil­dren. It’s very tough to eke out a liv­ing on this sort of in­come.’’

Throw a botched up Novo­pay sys­tem on top of that and you have a recipe for dis­as­ter, he said.

‘‘I think it’s time to pull the plug. If Steven Joyce can’t fix it af­ter spend­ing a year work­ing on it, one has to ask whether Novo­pay can ac­tu­ally be fixed, or whether it’s time to move to some­thing else. My own fort­nightly pay was down $ 300 three weeks ago.’’

Jamie Strange

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