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Tuesday 10 April 2012

Candidate Q&A: Charles Chauvel

Posted in: Comment, Features
By - 21st November 2011

There are plenty of out candidates running in the General Election this month and we are profiling some you (may) or may not know well yet with a Q&A session. Here is Labour's Ohariu candidate Charles Chauvel.

What have you done as a career outside Parliament?
Before I was an MP I was a lawyer, and a partner in the Minter Ellison Law Firm in Wellington and Sydney. Also Deputy Chair of Meridian Energy Ltd, the Lotteries Commission, Chair of the NZ AIDS Foundation, Member of the Board of the Public Health Commission.

What made you want to get into politics?
I did quite a bit of public interest litigation in the 1990s - I sued the National Government for trying to end funding to Rainbow Youth, and I tried to get some grossly anti-gay hate publications being circulated by fundamentalist Christian groups declared indecent or objectionable after their publication led to assaults on lesbian and gay people and attacks on their property. That helped me to realise that using the parliamentary process from the inside to work for fairness was likely to be a more effective way of achievement change than any other.

Why did you choose your party?
Labour has the best record of any party in terms of advancing the rights of LGBTI people, and in terms of safeguarding fairness and equality in general. We got HLR and Civil Unions under Labour, as well as a social safety net, environmental protections and foreign policies we can be proud of. I often like a lot of what I hear from the Greens too, but I prefer to be a member of a party with broader appeal that can expect to head a government and be able to enact the bulk of its reform agenda.

Who are some of your heroes?
The great 20th century liberals - unafraid to use the power of the state to strive to create equality of opportunity - Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt are probably the epitomes of this tradition as far as I am concerned.

When did you come out? Who did you first tell?
1985, when I was in my final year at Gisborne Boys' High School and the HLR debate was at its height. I told my grandma, sister and parents and around about the same time.

What do you think are the biggest issues for glbti New Zealanders right now?
Getting rid of the last barriers to legal equality (marriage, adoption, etc), and working to ensure dignity and safety for GLBTI New Zealanders, starting with ending anti-gay bullying in schools.

What will you do, if elected, to change these situations?
As Labour's Justice Spokesperson I have ensured that our programme includes commitments to deal with these issues when we are next in government. So a vote for Labour is a vote to make real progress on these issues.

Are you single or do you have a partner? If you have a partner tell us a little bit about them? Any kids?
My partner Dave and I met in 1994, when I was working at the Crown Law Office and he was a police officer. He is now in the recruitment business. We got married in Toronto, Canada, a couple of years ago.

What will you be doing on election night?
(Hopefully) celebrating defeating anti-Civil Union Act MP Peter Dunne with my supporters at the Johnsonville Club.

How can people contact you if they want to chat about issues they are concerned about?
Email me at or contact me via facebook. - 21st November 2011

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