O'Connor backs Labour to win in Rangitata

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2014

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The Rangitata electorate is likely to swing back to Labour in this election, according to the party's primary industries spokesman, Damien O'Connor.

Here yesterday for his first political visit this year, O'Connor said he thought his party's candidate could win the electorate.

"Timaru did well under Labour. It was Jim Sutton's electorate and it's time to get it back," he said.

In 2005 National's Jo Goodhew, who was 31st on the party list, won the Aoraki electorate. Boundaries changed and she won the next two elections in the newly formed Rangitata electorate.

O'Connor is impressed with the recently announced Kotahi deal, which would enable PrimePort Timaru to increase its throughput over the next 10 years.

"When Fonterra moved to Lyttelton [port], it was a short-sighted move. Now they are back here, it's great."

The main issues needing attention in the area, O'Connor said, included infrastructure, roading, the environment, and the meat and dairy industries.

"Timaru is like a lot of provincial areas . . . we can't allow the slide of dry stock, it must be viable."

He thinks the meat industry needs guidance and he would like to see the farming sector profiting with no further degradation of waterways.

Timaru Hospital and the roading system were under pressure and both needed to be future-proofed, he said.

On the subject of its monetary policy, O'Connor said Labour would not drive up the dollar, which squeezed exporters.

He said it was important to ensure power companies did not "rort" consumers.

Labour's Rangitata candidate for the September election is Steve Gibson, 56th on the party list.

O'Connor was confident Labour would win Rangitata and blamed its "perceived" lack of support on electoral boundary changes.

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- The Timaru Herald

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