Labour caucus takes stock in city

It's still too early to say who will fill former Rotorua Labour MP Steve Chadwick's shoes as the electorate's next Labour Party candidate, according to the party's top brass.

The Labour Party is holding a two-day caucus meeting at the Millennium Hotel in Rotorua to discuss its up-coming budgets and strategies for the future.

The meeting, which started yesterday, was not open to the public but party leader David Shearer and his deputy Grant Robertson made time to speak to The Daily Post after a long day of talks.

Mr Shearer said he believed Rotorua was a winnable seat for Labour.

"It was held by Labour for a long time and could be again," he said.

Mr Robertson said the party had already been approached with a possible candidate for Rotorua.

However, it was still early days and the pair would not be drawn on possible names.

Mr Robertson said the national Budget would be announced on Thursday next week, the caucus meeting focusing on that and where Labour was placed after last year's election defeat.

Just four months into the new Parliament, the pair were comfortable with the party's position.

The next big push would be to support a citizens-initiated referendum on the sale of state owned assets.

"We've been looking strategically at where we are and we think we're tracking well.

"As politicians you end up doing so many other things every day, you need time to reflect and take in the bigger picture."

So, it was mobile phones off for the day.

The pair are also in the middle of a regional conference series where they are touring the country reconnecting with party faithful as they go.

Mr Shearer and a number of high-ranking Labour politicians had dinner with Mrs Chadwick last night as a thank you for the years of service she gave the party.

Mr Shearer was scheduled to visit Rotorua's Community Law Centre today to discuss the possible National Government-led closures of community law centres nationwide.

Chadwick considers foray into local politics

Former Rotorua MP Steve Chadwick has set up a consultancy business and has already picked up a number of contracts - but is not ruling out a return to local body politics.

Mrs Chadwick said six months after retiring from national politics she had "come out of hibernation" and opened Chadwick Consultants, working in health, conservation and local government. She has picked up a number of contracts - for a non-governmental conservation organisation, The World Bank and for individuals seeking help in the health sector.

"This is quite exciting and different for me ... but there was no way I was going to retire. I need to keep busy," she said.

Her first contract was for conservation group Preserve New Chum, who are working to preserve one of the country's most beautiful beaches.

New Chum's Beach, Wainuiototo Bay, in the Coromandel Peninsula, was rated one of the world's top beaches in the Lonely Planet travel guide.

Mrs Chadwick said she was involved in the preservation of the beach as Labour's Minister for Conservation.

She is also working on local government reform, where she is a firm believer in regionalisation, but with a local voice.

"I've also got some work from the World Bank and have been asked to travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, to do some work on helping to set up transparent local government."

But, she said she had been frustrated in her attempt to learn te reo Maori after leaving her enrolment too late for this year.

She told The Daily Post she could see Rotorua in a much clearer light after leaving Cabinet and felt she still had a lot to offer.

"If I'm not busy enough come the end of the year I'll be looking at local body elections and will definitely keep that door open. But, who knows what will happen in that time? I will make a decision on that at the end of the year," she said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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