Hughes gets Greens light to take on Tolley

'Local boy' confirmed as East Coast candidate, expects rail and oil to be major local issues.

'Local boy' confirmed as East Coast candidate, expects rail and oil to be major local issues.

Gareth Hughes. Picture by Liam Clayton

THE Green Party has chosen Gareth Hughes to try to unseat East Coast MP Anne Tolley. And the party’s Gisborne-born candidate expects rail and oil to be the major local issues he will be kicking up “a fuss” about.

Mr Hughes was confirmed as the party’s East Coast candidate after extensive “questioning” from members of the Gisborne and Whakatane branches of the party.

The 35-year-old is the party’s spokesman on energy and resources, tertiary education, skills and employment, science and innovation, ICT (information and communications technology) and broadcasting.

Mr Hughes said the party’s election manifesto would be released early next year but he suggested re-opening the Gisborne-Wairoa rail line, overturning the Government’s “last-century” thinking on regional economies and issues around oil drilling, and the “dead in the water” TPPA free trade agreement were likely to be high priorities.

The former Gisborne Boys’ High School student said he had already given the party a commitment to relocate back here from Wellington should he be elected in next year’s General Election.

“As a local boy it’s a real privilege to be selected and I’m looking forward to running a positive, energetic campaign.”

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has held the East Coast seat, which covers Gisborne, Opotiki and Whakatane, since 2005 after first being elected to Parliament as a list MP in 1999.

Mr Hughes said despite Mrs Tolley’s length of service, Gisborne continued to be treated as a “poor relative” compared with the rest of the country.

“We’ve missed out on big things like the new research and development centre. We’re still slipping behind on all those negative indicators. Unemployment is higher than the national average.

“I like Anne, I respect her, but she’s been in Parliament since last millennium, and you have to wonder if she is more focused on sitting around the Cabinet table and those responsibilities than energetically articulating for Gisborne.

“Take the rail issue. She seems to be parroting the argument of the Transport Minister, whereas I think many local businesses and local residents want to see their local MP bang on the table and raise a bit of a fuss.

“This is about regional development, our links to the rest of the country. We want to see our local MP standing up for local issues.”

Mr Hughes said he would be highlighting some of the more modern solutions to the region’s issues.

“Contrast that with the Government, who seem to be looking to the 1960s in terms of their fixation on roads and oil drilling.

“Regions like the East Coast and Northland are slipping further and further behind. What they need is more proactive, strategic leadership.”

Although the party only received 9.2 percent of the vote in the last election, there was still a platform to build on.

“My job is going to be first and foremost to grow the party vote. That’s how we can see more Green MPs in Parliament keeping the Government honest.

“Secondly, the party is considering voting for the candidate as well and that’s something I’ll be considering for this electorate. Being a third-term MP, I’d like to offer my experience and new ideas and energy to the electorate.”

While Prime Minister John Key had still to announce a date for the election, it would have to be some time between now and November of next year.

“The East Coast is one of the first Green Party branches to select a candidate. I think the Prime Minister may try to be tricky and call an early election, so that’s why we’re getting ready and we’ll be launching our campaign early next year.”

THE Green Party has chosen Gareth Hughes to try to unseat East Coast MP Anne Tolley. And the party’s Gisborne-born candidate expects rail and oil to be the major local issues he will be kicking up “a fuss” about.

Mr Hughes was confirmed as the party’s East Coast candidate after extensive “questioning” from members of the Gisborne and Whakatane branches of the party.

The 35-year-old is the party’s spokesman on energy and resources, tertiary education, skills and employment, science and innovation, ICT (information and communications technology) and broadcasting.

Mr Hughes said the party’s election manifesto would be released early next year but he suggested re-opening the Gisborne-Wairoa rail line, overturning the Government’s “last-century” thinking on regional economies and issues around oil drilling, and the “dead in the water” TPPA free trade agreement were likely to be high priorities.

The former Gisborne Boys’ High School student said he had already given the party a commitment to relocate back here from Wellington should he be elected in next year’s General Election.

“As a local boy it’s a real privilege to be selected and I’m looking forward to running a positive, energetic campaign.”

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has held the East Coast seat, which covers Gisborne, Opotiki and Whakatane, since 2005 after first being elected to Parliament as a list MP in 1999.

Mr Hughes said despite Mrs Tolley’s length of service, Gisborne continued to be treated as a “poor relative” compared with the rest of the country.

“We’ve missed out on big things like the new research and development centre. We’re still slipping behind on all those negative indicators. Unemployment is higher than the national average.

“I like Anne, I respect her, but she’s been in Parliament since last millennium, and you have to wonder if she is more focused on sitting around the Cabinet table and those responsibilities than energetically articulating for Gisborne.

“Take the rail issue. She seems to be parroting the argument of the Transport Minister, whereas I think many local businesses and local residents want to see their local MP bang on the table and raise a bit of a fuss.

“This is about regional development, our links to the rest of the country. We want to see our local MP standing up for local issues.”

Mr Hughes said he would be highlighting some of the more modern solutions to the region’s issues.

“Contrast that with the Government, who seem to be looking to the 1960s in terms of their fixation on roads and oil drilling.

“Regions like the East Coast and Northland are slipping further and further behind. What they need is more proactive, strategic leadership.”

Although the party only received 9.2 percent of the vote in the last election, there was still a platform to build on.

“My job is going to be first and foremost to grow the party vote. That’s how we can see more Green MPs in Parliament keeping the Government honest.

“Secondly, the party is considering voting for the candidate as well and that’s something I’ll be considering for this electorate. Being a third-term MP, I’d like to offer my experience and new ideas and energy to the electorate.”

While Prime Minister John Key had still to announce a date for the election, it would have to be some time between now and November of next year.

“The East Coast is one of the first Green Party branches to select a candidate. I think the Prime Minister may try to be tricky and call an early election, so that’s why we’re getting ready and we’ll be launching our campaign early next year.”

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Peter Jones - 2 years ago
I wish you all the best Gareth Hughes. Your recent speeches show that you have matured into a worthy opposition MP.
If I had not been sacked from the Labour Party by party secretary Andrew Kirton for denigrating Phil Goff, I would be telling them to admit their bungling incompetence here on the coast and get in behind supporting you.
Anne Tolley has a pleasant enough personality but her government and her own position in that government have done nothing for lower income level groups except make life harder.
The public servants under Tolley's control must outnumber this group though because she bolts in at the polls.
The only way to oppose her is for all dissatisfied voters to put their faith in one single opposing candidate.
I once harboured hopes that I would be the one to send her packing so she can breathe a sigh of relief there because I would not have been remotely politically correct or fearful of public opinion as I tore her to shreds, ha ha.
As a strong supporter of the environment and the local people I've shied away from the Greens who support UN agenda 2030 but Gareth Hughes seems to be not so green these days and if it's a choice between a delusional National Party "yes" woman or a deluded Green I'm supporting the G man.

Billy Mckee - 2 years ago
You can do it mate.

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