Allen wants to turn the blue tide Labour red

Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

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He sailed solo across the Atlantic Ocean in a 30-foot yacht and has now set a course for the choppy seas of national politics.

Cliff Allen, 58, hoisted his flag up the Labour Party mast and has David Bennett's stranglehold on the Hamilton East electorate in his sights.

The National MP has held the seat since 2005 and wants it back for a fourth term but Mr Allen said there was no reason why the blue tide couldn't be painted red.

"I've got a hurdle to overcome but I like talking to people and meeting people."

Mr Allen called himself an "accidental politician" and decided if someone needed to stand for change then it might as well be him.

"I'm at a stage in my life where I'm thinking, somebody has got to do something - and it's me."

He grew up in Putaruru, his father a farmer and forestry worker, but he attended school at St Paul's Collegiate and owned Hamilton company Vogel Engineering from 1994 until 1998.

He then went back to university where he earned a doctorate in management and communications with a focus on the development of business for social responsibility

"I'd always been left leaning because I'd always thought New Zealand wasn't a country just for rich people and so when I started to see how the structures worked I thought right, so that's when I joined the Labour Party. I thought something has got to be different."

He lives in Cambridge but has a soft spot for the Hamilton East electorate and won the confidence of the party membership.

Growing up in Putaruru made him handy with the tools - he is currently refurbishing his River Rd office and credits his "timber town" upbringing for his ability to communicate with multiple sectors of the community.

"Everybody was pretty much on a par in a town like that," he said. "The bank manager socialised with the mill worker, they went pig hunting and fishing and nobody was extra special. That's how I see myself."

He called for greater government intervention to balance the economic ledger and said a reliance on a free market was disastrous.

Developments in the north end of the electorate pointed to Hamilton East's potential but he said it wasn't firing on all cylinders.

"It's a dormant suburb in a lot of ways. There is not a lot of industry over here, there needs to be more industry, there needs to be more things for more people to be attracted to."

Tainui had a right to develop the Ruakura inland port but he said the lack of consultation was concerning.

"We are for development but it's just has be done sensitively and I think that's the main concern for people here.

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"We do have to try and get win-win."

elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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