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Ousted minister on streets

By Mike Dinsdale

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Three days after being dropped from Cabinet, Whangarei MP Phil Heatley was back in the city meeting constituents.

Mr Heatley was dumped from his Energy and Resources and Housing ministerial portfolios in Prime Minister John Key's latest Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, and immediately the news broke he said it meant he could spend more time in his electorate.

Yesterday the four-term MP was back on the streets of his electorate, talking to shoppers in Whangarei CBD and with his campaign caravan at Kamo.

One of the first to greet him at Kamo was constituent Lachlan Bull, who welcomed him back with a handshake and some sympathy about his demotion.

Mr Heatley said he had been surprised at the response of most people he had met yesterday.

"I was back in town every Friday anyway to deal with Whangarei issues, but not being in Cabinet means I will have more time to get out talking to constituents.

"It helps keep a finger on what's going on and I'll be getting out and about like this more often now," he said.

Mr Heatley said he was looking at moving his family - wife Jenny and children Bryn, 13, Nina, 11 and Mckenzie, 9, - back to Whangarei after they shifted to Wellington to be able to spend more time with him as being a minister meant spending more time in the capital.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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