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Monday 10 April 2017


All eyes on the Mount Albert by-election

Posted in: Features
By Matt Akersten - 6th June 2009

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Who will replace New Zealand's most LGBT-friendly Prime Minister in Auckland's Mount Albert electorate? On the campaign trail, the four main candidates answered our questions.

The citzens of the Mount Albert electorate will vote for their MP on Saturday 13 June. Check all the details on the Elections NZ website.

We had two questions for each candidate:

Q: Helen Clark was a very gay-friendly Prime Minister. If elected, will you continue her tradition of strong advocacy for LGBT people in Mt Albert?

Q: What do you and your party offer to a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender resident of Mount Albert who might be undecided about who to vote for in this by-election?

Here's how the Greens' Russel Norman, National's Melissa Lee, Act's John Boscawen and Labour's David Shearer responded, in the order their replies came in to us:

The Green Party's Russel Norman

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Russel Norman
"I feel strongly that the struggle for gay rights is the struggle for human rights. And the Green Party has very strong Rainbow policies that celebrate diversity, eliminate institutional discrimination and barriers to full social participation, and education programmes about sexual orientation in schools, workplaces and the community.

"Auckland and the Mt Albert electorate in particular has a strong tradition of being out and proud. The Big Gay Out at Pt Chevalier's Coyle Park is a public way of celebrating diversity and the Green Party strongly supports that celebration.

"But, unlike other parties, we go beyond just window dressing. The Green party has the strongest policy on rainbow issues and the strongest record in parliament - all our MPs vote for rainbow issues as a matter of policy, not as conscience issues.

"Our policy is to ensure Government fully complies with the Human Rights Act, extends all legal partnership arrangements and rights to same-sex couples, and support partnerships with schools and "rainbow" youth organisations to reduce the unacceptably high level of suicide and drug abuse among youth.

"Fairness is a big part of who we are as Greens. So we'd support equal criteria for both "rainbow" and heterosexual couples in their assessment for suitability and eligibility for parenting, plus encourage the development of adequately resourced community centres, outreach programmes and events and the creative self-expression of people with "rainbow" identities through drama and literature and the arts.

The hard part of being different is often reflected in the various health challenges that often beset Rainbow communities. So the Green Party would encourage research to help identify discriminatory workplace and institutional practices while supporting participatory research into individual life experience to identify ways to encourage "rainbow" communities' physical and mental health."

The National Party's Melissa Lee

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Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee rang GayNZ.com to answer our emailed questions. She told us she was a strong advocate for equal rights for LGBT people, and has always been a friend to our communities. She also acknowledged that Helen Clark had done a great job for gay people in her time as Prime Minister, and was pleased that life had become better for LGBT citizens in New Zealand.

"As a broadcaster I've known and respected the team from Queer Nation and have kept up-to-date with issues facing the LGBT community," she added.

"Arriving from Malaysia to New Zealand many years ago, I experienced some discrimination and know how that can feel. I hope you and your community will keep in touch and we'll work together on any issues which come forward."

The Act Party's John Boscawen

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John Boscawen
"I have a very dear female friend who is gay and I see no reason why I would not advocate for the rights of all people, no matter what their sexual orientation.

"As to what I personally offer LGBT people, it is what I offer all residents of Mt. Albert. I have a strong record of standing up for the rights of others. I spoke out against the Electoral Finance Bill, a bill that would have severely restricted the rights of all New Zealanders to speak out against the government in election year. This was a bill championed by the former MP and PM, but I note the Labour opposition voted for its repeal earlier this year. I am also calling for an inquiry in to the collapse of finance companies, and I am about to start campaigning for affordable sight-restoring cataract surgery.

"I believe the biggest challenge facing all people, not just LGBT people, is our falling living standards, and our declining relative incomes to those in Australia. We need to introduce policies that urgently address this relative decline."

The Labour Party's David Shearer

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David Shearer
"Labour has a proud history supporting LGBT rights in New Zealand. From Homosexual Law Reform in the 1980s to championing Civil Unions in 2004 we have consistently worked to give same-sex and different-sex couples equal rights. If I had been in Parliament during those times I would have also voted for each piece of legislation. I believe all people should have the same rights no matter their sexual orientation or identity and will continue to support the LGBT community.

"I want security and opportunity for everyone and I believe in listening to the community on issues that affect them. I'll continue Labour's support for LGBT communities and, if elected, meet with members of the community on a regular basis. I support my Labour colleague Charles Chauvel's bill to remove the defense of provocation which I know the LGBT community also supports. On a wider note, I am out there talking to people about the everyday issues that matter. People in Mt Albert like the idea of the Super City but don't like the way National is ramming through their own changes and harming local democracy. People in Mt Albert are concerned with National's decision to ram a motorway through the heart of their community. And people are concerned about jobs and worried National doesn't have a coherent plan for saving them. I will stand up for Mt Albert on all these issues."


Matt Akersten - 6th June 2009

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