Northland: Willow-Jean Prime Q & A

From NZ Herald Northland by-election: Q+A with leading candidates the Labour candidate Willow-Jean Prime’s  responses.

What is the first thing you would do as Northland’s new MP?

Well, Kelvin [Davis] told me it won’t be a sleep-in. The first thing I would do is take that list of promises we’ve received and which we will hopefully continue to receive until the 28th of March and ensure it was implemented, along with my long list of requests from the community.

Will you stand in Northland again in 2017?

Yes.

What is your stance on the $1.75 billion Puhoi to Wellsford Highway?

The first stage [to Warkworth] is already committed. Beyond that I still have a question mark and want to see the business case for it, but my real issue is what about the rest of the state highway network and other rural roads? What about rail, and the link to the port? Bringing the motorway that far doesn’t actually address a lot of our issues further north. It’s a start, but what about the rest?

What is your stance on deep sea oil exploration and extraction off Northland’s coastline?

The issue is around extraction. I’m not convinced at this stage that it’s in our best interests in Northland. The community is really divided, the current regulatory framework is not strong enough for environmental protection and when they talk about the jobs it will create, our people don’t have the skills for the jobs. So will it be Northlanders who get the jobs and benefits from that, or will it simply attract other people from overseas or outside our region? There’s also a question mark around benefits to the region in terms of royalties. Any decision has to involve the community.

The Finance Minister has given you $200 million for the electorate. How would you spend it?

There’s the roading network – and I’m so pleased to see all these promises that the by-election has brought us. There are also sewerage and water schemes which used to be more subsidised by the Government than now. Another core piece of infrastructure that needs more investment is broadband and mobile coverage. In Dargaville, the cable is right next to them but they can’t hook in. Only the schools can. What’s that about? It makes it so difficult to do business from the North and it’s a lifestyle thing we like to have too, to connect us to the rest of the world at the same speeds everyone else has got. I can’t even use Skype in my home [near Moerewa].

Prime should be popular on the left and across to the centre and could have built her (and Labour’s) support if her party hadn’t decided to try and hand the election over to Peters. This looks lightweight and earnest – I think Prime comes across better in person.

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