Rangitata in Labour's pocket - Cunliffe

Labour leader David Cunliffe believes the party can win the Rangitata electorate in 2014.

He said draft boundary changes, which give parts of Rakaia to Selwyn, mean the seat is "anybody's game". In the last election Labour polled well in Timaru but National was stronger in the Ashburton district.

Mr Cunliffe, in South Canterbury to rouse the party faithful in Temuka, believes Labour can win Ashburton this time.

"Geraldine's coming back in, we'll have Point, we'll have Temuka; I think we can win this seat."

Labour's win of Christchurch East showed what was possible in the next election. Membership of the Labour Party had nearly doubled this year. On December 1 membership was up 85 per on January 1.

"I've never seen anything like it. We are up 50 per cent since the leadership race started three or four months ago. People know Labour's on the rise."

He thought his late father, Pleasant Point Anglican minister Bill Cunliffe, would be "very proud".

"But he'd also say it's time to get out and do some work, because these chances don't come along again.

"If the one out of four who couldn't get off the sofa last time, does this time, we can't be beaten. We will win Rangitata and we will have another Labour MP in Timaru just like we used to."

While Labour would restructure employment conditions, ultimately it had to also benefit employers, something the party would achieve through a higher-value economy.

He said it was great to see dairy prospering, but people knew there was a limit to expansion before the cost to waterways was too high.

"Not that we don't want to see more cows, but we know it's not infinite. What is infinite is the amount of value we can get out of every bucket of milk."

Milk powder was not worth as much as baby food and baby food was less valuable than pure proteins or medicines.

"With the ingredient of a bit of science and smarts our dairy industry can be worth much more value than it currently is."

Logs which had been sent to China for milling, then imported back for the Christchurch rebuild while a North Island sawmill closed down, could be milled into downstream products "in Kiwi mills using Kiwi labour and be worth a whole lot more". 

The Timaru Herald