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Candidate QandA: Tony Milne

Mon 17 Mar 2014 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

Tony Milne Gay man and community advocate Tony Milne has been selected as Labour’s candidate for Christchurch Central. The 32-year-old helped co-ordinate the civil union campaign when he worked for MP Tim Barnett. He was also involved in the more recent campaign for marriage equality and also helped set up Christchurch’s queer youth group Q-Topia, a group he’s also been on the board of. The former youth worker has been active in the Labour Party since 1999 and was the campaign manager for Jim Anderton’s Mayoral bid in Christchurch in 2010. He is currently national manager of public health at the Problem Gambling Foundation, and a JP. Milne had a civil union with his partner Nic at Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens in 2008. He answers a series of pre-election questions: How are you feeling after winning selection? Has it sunk in? It's a real honour. My job now is to reward the faith Labour has put in me by winning Christchurch Central and increasing Labour's Party Vote in Christchurch Central. But there is a now a lot of work ahead huh? Campaigning involves a lot of listening and developing answers and solutions for people. But that's what I'm passionate about doing, so I'm looking forward to it. You have been very active behind the scenes in politics, what made you want to run yourself? The Canterbury Earthquakes caused many people to reflect on their own lives. When I reflected on what I wanted to do I make a deliberate decision that I wanted to stay in Christchurch and help rebuild my city and the lives of the people here. I believe I can make a positive difference and help to create a better city. What do you most love about Christchurch? Despite the earthquakes I still think this is the best place on earth! We're big enough to have thriving arts, sports, and recreation, but small enough to know our neighbours and have strong community and resident associations. Christchurch is a beautiful city, with the Avon and Heathcote Rivers, and amazing landscapes on our doorstep. We're the home to creative and innovative people, and post-earthquake have the opportunity to be the best small city in the world. What are some of its key challenges? Many of the challenges relate to the earthquake, but not exclusively. People are struggling with incomes that are too low and house prices and power prices that are too high. People are struggling with getting answers from EQC and insurance companies and with homes that are too cold and damp. Too many of our children are growing up in poverty in Christchurch. The Government has been too fast to close great schools like Phillipstown School but too slow to get things moving in the central city. Many businesses and community organisations have re-built outside of the central city. We must focus on creating more affordable housing and getting more people living in the central city, including families and young people to help drive other development. Milne (centre) at the opening of Christchurch Pride Festival (Picture - Craig J Ashby) And what are the challenges for glbti Christchurch in particular? The challenges are mostly the same as everyone else. The unique challenges relate to the lack of venues to go out to in the weekend (although more venues are starting to open), and ensuring safe schools and safe streets free of homophobia, bullying and violence. How would you represent glbti New Zealanders in Parliament? By trying to be a positive role model and supporting the unfinished business - adoption, transgendered rights, safe schools, and advocacy at a global level. What issues are most dear to your heart? Closing the gap that has grown between the rich and everyone else over the past 30 years. That gap is bad for everyone, and makes us a weaker nation. More jobs, higher incomes, and building more affordable housing are all part of reversing that gap. I'm also passionate about ensuring that our rivers, lakes, forests, and oceans are here for the use of our children's children. Why should readers vote for you? I've spent much of my life fighting alongside Davids as they take on Goliaths. My work as the National Manager of Public Health for the Problem Gambling Foundation has involved working with people who have faced real human struggles and tough times. Many people in Christchurch Central are facing tough times too. I will listen to and stand up for the people who have made Christchurch their home and ensure that all people have a voice at the highest level. Why should they vote for Labour? Labour will make sure everyone benefits from the recovery, not just the wealthy few. We'll create opportunities (our best start package for children), jobs (high skill, high wage), and homes (KiwiBuild and the healthy homes guarantee). How important is this election? It's crucial - particularly for Christchurch and the people who live here. We can't afford another three years of earthquake recovery that is too slow and messy. We need a recovery that puts people first. A Labour-led Government will bring much needed change to Christchurch. Are you a glbti candidate standing in the election? Let us know. Email  Tony Milne, with - 17th March 2014    

Credit: Tony Milne, with

First published: Monday, 17th March 2014 - 1:52pm

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