Hous­ing, trans­port dom­i­nate Otaki

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

Otaki used to be in the hands of Labour, but lately it’s been a safe Na­tional seat.

Na­tional MP Nathan Guy has won over vot­ers in the Otaki elec­torate since 2008.

Guy, born in Levin, first stood as a can­di­date for the elec­torate in 2005. He was un­suc­cess­ful then, but his sup­port has in­creased in the past three elec­tions.

In 2014, he gained thet­ick of ap­proval from more than half of the elec­torate’s vot­ers, with 20,980 out of 38,286 votes.

He has been the min­is­ter for pri­mary in­dus­tries since 2013 and min­is­ter for rac­ing since 2011.

Be­fore en­ter­ing Par­lia­ment, Guy worked for the Horowhenua District Coun­cil for eight years and he knows the district like the back of his hand, hav­ing man­aged the fam­ily dairy and beef farm.

Like the Labour and Greens can­di­dates for Otaki, Guy sup­ports bet­ter trans­port and tougher hous­ing stan­dards, which are some of Na­tional’s key is­sues for Horowhenua and Kapiti.

Guy fought hard to keep the Palmer­ston North-to-Welling­ton Cap­i­tal Con­nec­tion rail ser­vice. He also pro­motes bet­ter re­gional bus ser­vices, but un­like his op­po­si­tion, Guy said there were ben­e­fits to build­ing the Otaki to Peka Peka ex­press­way as well.

Trans­port and in­fra­struc­ture were im­por­tant to the Otaki elec­torate and im­prov­ing local health ser­vices and sup­port­ing se­nior cit­i­zens was also a big pri­or­ity, Guy said. ‘‘I will con­tinue to lobby MidCen­tral DHB to pro­vide more health ser­vices lo­cally as our pop­u­la­tion be­gins to grow.

‘‘Dou­ble crew­ing of St John’s am­bu­lances will also help to pro­vide a more re­li­able ser­vice for our el­derly.’’

As well as sup­port­ing the key link to Otaki and el­der care, Guy wants tougher stan­dards for rental hous­ing – just like his op­po­si­tion Labour can­di­date, Rob McCann, who came in sec­ond best at the last elec­tion.

McCann grew up on a farm and his fa­ther, like many farm­ers, sup­ported Na­tional, he said.

But McCann went against the grain and started sup­port­ing Labour dur­ing Rob Mul­doon’s time as prime min­is­ter from 1975 to 1984.

McCann cam­paigns for bet­ter living con­di­tions and an im­proved health and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

‘‘We have a great coun­try, but if you starve our so­cial ser­vices and look into the shad­ows, you find good peo­ple and in­no­cent chil­dren who don’t have op­por­tu­ni­ties and are suf­fer­ing.’’

Labour could change that, McCann said.

‘‘When I see peo­ple fight­ing to en­sure ev­ery­one has an op­por­tu­nity, and when I see Labour mem­bers living and breath­ing those fights, I know I’m in the right party.’’

Af­ford­able houses in the Otaki elec­torate and bring­ing back ap­pren­tice­ships would en­tice young fam­i­lies to move to the area, McCann said.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2013 cen­sus, al­most 24 per cent of peo­ple in Horowhenua are older than 65, com­pared with 14.3 per cent na­tion­ally.

Build­ing houses for low- and fixed-in­come fam­i­lies, and rent-toown houses, as well as en­sur­ing rentals had a min­i­mum living stan­dard would greatly im­prove hous­ing, McCann said.

‘‘A few weeks ago I was invited to visit a flat. The bath­room ceil­ing was cav­ing in, black mould was grow­ing on it and the elec­tric fan’s wires were ex­posed. The mother-to-be was about to be in­duced and a baby was go­ing to live in that en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘De­spite rais­ing the is­sue with the prop­erty man­ager, noth­ing was fixed.’’

The hous­ing sys­tem was bro­ken and the Gov­ern­ment wasn’t fix­ing it, McCann said.

He also wants bet­ter health­care for Ki­wis, in­clud­ing af­ter-hours ser­vices in the Otaki elec­torate, which was not well ser­viced, he said.

With can­di­dates all pitching so­lu­tions to ris­ing house prices, stresses as­so­ci­ated with an age­ing pop­u­la­tion and trans­port chal­lenges, Guy can­not sleep­walk to vic­tory. Votes swayed from party to party in the past two decades.

Labour’s Dar­ren Hughes won the seat in 2002 and in 2005 elec­tion he re­ceived 46 per cent of the votes, tak­ing the top spot again.

But Guy stepped in that year and wasn’t far be­hind with 42 per cent of the votes and he took the seat at the fol­low­ing elec­tion.

Hughes left Par­lia­ment af­ter a late-night en­counter with an­other man ended in scan­dal.

Un­der the old bound­aries, Labour heavy-hit­ter An­nette King held the Horowhenua seat from 1984 for two terms, be­fore she lost it to the Na­tional can­di­date, Hamish Han­cock.


Otaki Labour can­di­date Rob McCann.

Na­tional MP Nathan Guy.

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