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Shanan Halbert

In this podcast Shanan Halbert from the Labour Party talks to Regis Perez about what it's like to be a Member of Parliament.

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In an insightful podcast held at Parliament buildings in Wellington, Shanan Halbert from the Labour Party speaks with Regis Perez about the unique experiences and challenges of being a Member of Parliament. During the conversation, which spans the political landscape from the 1990s to the 2020s, Halbert reflects on their personal journey from Hawke's Bay to Auckland for university education—the first in their family to do so—and the desire to ensure similar opportunities for others.

The first year in Parliament is described as an emotional rollercoaster for Halbert, who not only had to learn the ins and outs of their role while being part of a large influx of MPs under Jacinda Ardern's leadership in 2020 but also coped with the grief of losing a parent on the election day. Despite the tense adjustment period and moments of self-doubt akin to imposter syndrome, Halbert emphasizes the value of seizing opportunities and the support received from teammates and ministers.

The conversation touches on the pride and challenges of belonging to a government with one of the highest representations of queer political figures globally. Responsibilities included leading the Rainbow Caucus and navigating the concerns about representing the community adequately. Highlighting key legislative work, Halbert recounts the journey of contributing to the Labour Party's manifesto and being instrumental in progressing the conversion practices prohibition legislation through Parliament—a proud moment that was also marred by the stark reality of political maneuvers impacting marginalized groups.

Looking to the future, Halbert advocates for continued progress for Takatapui and the broader rainbow community, recognizing the need for patience in achieving reform. The importance of a Labour-led government is underscored in making significant strides for the community’s rights, including marriage equality and legal recognition of identity on passports and birth certificates. The conversation acknowledges that true advancement requires both advocacy for human rights protections and addressing other vulnerabilities and inequalities faced by rainbow communities, especially around education, housing, and healthcare.

A vision for inter-agency cooperation is shared by Halbert, preferring integrated approaches across government departments over establishing a singular Rainbow Ministry—seeking a holistic advancement of outcomes for the rainbow community. Halbert eloquently sums up the ongoing role of queer politicians in representing and backing the community, while also inviting them to love and support their representatives, maintaining mutual encouragement and unity.

When discussing personal heroes, Halbert names influential figures like Georgina Beyer, Louisa Wall, and Grant Robertson as sources of strength and inspiration, applauding their trailblazing contributions to the community. Reflecting on their own journey of self-discovery, Halbert reveals a 24-year-old coming-out experience, emphasizing the diverse timelines with which individuals embrace their identities, with love being the central facet of life.

Finally, Halbert reiterates education as a key tool in battling inequality, stressing the significance of early support for young people to be comfortable with their identity. A prosperous life, by Halbert's definition, encompasses self-love, mental health, and satisfaction, rather than just financial success.

The session ends with Halbert encouraging queer individuals to acknowledge progress and the complexities of enacting change within the political system, assuring them of the continual support from all rainbow Members of Parliament.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:22nd November 2022
Interviewer:Regis Perez
Location:Parliament buildings, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004700).