Labour candidate highly regarded

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 12:00 19/12/2013
Janette Walker
Janette Walker

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Rural loan swap campaigner Janette Walker is to be the Labour Party's candidate for Kaikoura.

Ms Walker confirmed yesterday that she would stand for Labour in next year's general election.

A former Wairarapa farmer living in Feilding, Ms Walker said she would move to Marlborough in January.

Kaikoura has been a safe National seat, with sitting MP Colin King having an 11,445 vote margin in 2011 over nearest rival Labour's Liz Collyns.

However, on Tuesday night, Mr King was toppled by Marlborough grapegrower Stuart Smith.

Mr Smith has been criticised as being a "single-issue candidate" promoting the wine industry after leading the New Zealand Winegrowers Association for ten years.

Ms Walker said she might be seen as a "carpetbagger" by moving to Marlborough to fill a vacancy.

However, the basic issues affecting rural New Zealand were the same, she said.

Ms Walker has acted for several Marlborough farmers, mediating between them and their banks, and it is believed there are several Marlborough farmers and grapegrowers affected by loan swaps, an issue she has campaigned on.

"I think it's time that rural New Zealand and the regions were looked after. They've been woefully neglected under this National government."

She said she was "absolutely committed" to Kaikoura and becoming an MP. It was a "fantastic" electorate, with the mountains, sea, grapes, the Sounds and friendly people. She was not using Kaikoura as a stepping stone to something else, she said.

"I'm not interested in the baubles. I just want to do a good job."

Ms Walker is seen by the Labour Party as a highly regarded candidate and attractive to a rural electorate.

On Tuesday, she won Commerce Commission backing for her campaign against loan swaps, with the commission confirming it had advised three major New Zealand banks - ANZ, ASB and Westpac - that it intended to issue legal proceedings over their sales of interest rate swap contracts to rural customers.

The Commission told the banks that in its view they might have breached sections of the Fair Trading Act.

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- The Marlborough Express

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