King aims to retain the crown

BLAKE CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 13:19 21/08/2014
Annette King
DIANE JOYCE/Fairfax NZ
INCUMBENT: Annette King.

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Labour's Annette King is seeking a seventh straight term as the MP for Rongotai.

Quality jobs, better infrastructure and a fairer society have been named as the key issues facing the Rongotai electorate by candidates for the September 20 general election.

King has held the seat since its creation in 1996. Before that she was MP for old electorate Miramar.

Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, National's Chris Finlayson, and Green Party co- leader Russell Norman, will also stand again.

Contesting the seat from outside Parliament are Bruce Welsh for the Conservative Party, Brent Pierson for New Zealand First and Sultan Eusoff for United Future.

For King, housing affordability was a key issue affecting constituents.

"Being close to the city, rents are expensive and, in most suburbs, houses are out of the range of most first home buyers," she said.

Labour's key policies, such as removing red tape for small business, building 100,000 affordable homes, free prescriptions and extending paid parental leave, would help Rongotai, King said,

National list MP Finlayson said the electorate was home to highly talented and capable people in the screen sector and he was proud to have helped keep film productions in New Zealand. Addressing infrastructural issues was also another key issue, he said.

The National Government's top priorities had been government finances, a stronger economy, better public services and rebuilding Christchurch.

"The people of Rongotai can trust me when I say these priorities will continue to be at front of mind if voters return National to government next month," he said.

Green co-leader Norman said difficulties faced in keeping homes warm and putting healthy food on the table were key concerns.

He said the Green Party's top priority was to ensure every child could thrive through policies such as school hubs, extended early childhood education and free doctors visits for teenagers.

Norman said the electorate should treasure the marine reserve on its doorstep and invest in innovation instead of "inviting risky deep sea oil drilling off our coast".

Conservative candidate Bruce Welsh said as well as issues posed by transport bottlenecks, a key issue facing the electorate was how voters were affected by government.

"The Government no longer seems to listen to the people."

Policies such as the Conservatives' binding referenda and reduced taxes initiatives would help the people of Rongotai, he said. He was not standing on his party's list, as he said he believed MPs should be firmly based in an electorate.

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New Zealand First candidate Brent Pierson said the region needed more jobs and investment.

There were parties based on race, for the rich and for environmentalists and New Zealand needed a party "for all the people of this country", he said.

United Future candidate Sultan Eusoff did not respond to inquiries for comment.

One of the more far-flung corners of the electorate is the Chatham Islands. Both King and Finlayson said they had been advocates for the Chathams, which King said visiting should be on everyone's bucket list.

Last election Finlayson received 33 votes on the island while King received 31, from a total of 68. Meet the candidates forum, St Anne's Parish Hall, 22 Emmett St, Newtown, Thursday, September 4, 7pm start.

KEY CONCERNS AND OPINIONS ON RONGOTAI

Annette King, Labour, incumbent: Affordable housing and job creation opportunities. "I first shifted here in 1981. It's the place I know and love with the sea, wild winds and friendly people."

Chris Finlayson, National, Attorney-General and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: Infrastructure issues and screen sector jobs. "Rongotai is home to some very talented people as well as beautiful landscapes such as Karaka and Scorching bays."

Russel Norman, Greens, Green Party Co-Leader: A lack of fairness in society and jobs. "I've lived in Rongotai for many years and chose it as the place to raise my family."

Bruce Welsh, Conservatives: Transport and government no longer listening to the people. "The best thing about Rongotai is the people. We have lots of creative, hard-working people."

Brent Pierson, New Zealand First: More jobs and investment. "Rongotai is a great place to live. The southern coast is amazing and Newtown is a great place to shop and eat."

Sultan Eusoff, United Future: Did not respond.

- The Wellingtonian

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