Labour education spokesperson visits Marlborough

A trip to Lake Grassmere, an engineering firm and an early childhood centre were on the cards when Labour MP Chris Hipkins visited Marlborough on Tuesday.

Hipkins visited Cuddon Limited, Cloudy Bay Clams and John Street Preschool, before stopping by Selmes Garden Centre in Blenheim to have a chat with staff and tour the nursery.

Janette Walker, who helped organise the visit, said more Labour MPs would be visiting the Kaikoura electorate over the coming months.

The visit gave Hipkins a chance to talk with Marlburians about government policies that were affecting them.

“It’s been a good day – it’s been very positive,” Walker said.

Hipkins said Labour MPs were making an effort to visit regional areas after a disappointing election result last year.

“One of the lessons that we took out of that was that we needed to spend more time getting out there talking to people and listening.”

Selmes Garden Centre employs 10 workers with disabilities, but receives limited government funding.

Selmes Garden Trust trustee Steve Riley said Hipkins listened carefully to the issues the centre faced.

The centre just broke even as a business, Riley said.

“The whole point of this is that these guys are employed. They have a reason to get out of bed in the morning…

“[the centre is] fulfilling a really important social function with very little government input,” Riley said.

Selmes Garden Centre business development manager Martyn Birch said he appreciated the chance to talk with Hipkins.

“It’s good for politicians to come down and see organisations that are outside of their normal scope and see some of the issues that we face.”

 – The Marlborough Express

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