With National finally deciding not to do an electorate deal with the Conservatives in East Coast Bays, Greg Milner-White, Labour’s candidate for the high-profile seat, is working to get the election focused on issues that matter to local people.
A huge amount of attention has been focussed on East Coast Bays and whether a deal was going to be done.
Now that focus needs to turn very swiftly to the issues that matter to local people – our families, our homes and our work – not deals between parties.
I am aiming to be a fresh and energetic new voice for the community in East Coast Bays about the issues that will make a difference to people. That’s the message of my campaign and it’s at the heart of why I’m standing as a Labour candidate.
I grew up in Auckland, studied law and history at Otago, I’m married to Nicola, who is a GP, and I have worked as a lawyer for the past 20 years.
I’ve been privileged to enjoy rewarding and challenging roles, from working as an investigating lawyer with the UK Government’s Bloody Sunday inquiry to the last ten-years with New Zealand firm Kensington Swan in areas that particularly interest me – environmental, town planning and local government.
Within the community, I have worked with organisations including the Land and Water Forum and the New Zealand Law Society Environment Committee and I have been a legal advisor to the Environmental Defence Society. I’m also a vestry member of St Paul’s Church in Symonds Street in Auckland.
This work and experiences helped fire my decision to become more actively involved with Labour and to stand as a candidate. I began doing work for the party six or seven years ago and was involved with Phil Twyford’s 2011 campaign in Te Atatu. But the roots of my commitment to Labour values go back much further.
I come from a family where, as I was growing up, politics and the affairs of the world were discussed regularly and vigorously.
We were encouraged to think for ourselves and argue our points around the table in the evening – from the facts and evidence.
We were taught to think about society and how it should work for the best outcomes for New Zealand as a whole - to think beyond our own prosperity to the policies and ideas that were fair and right, not just those that helped us in our individual corner to get ahead.
We were imbued with core values – fairness, opportunity, and that through hard work we can achieve great things.
Over time I have realised that these are key Labour values - equality and solidarity, looking out for others and giving everyone a ‘fair go’ or a hand up where required. They are values which are ever more important in the face of the growing inequality we see opening up in New Zealand today. It’s something more New Zealanders are becoming aware of – as they struggle to get into first homes, find decent work and get ahead.
I would like to see a New Zealand with a focus on a more collaborative or co-operative approach, rather than simply leaving people to make the best of the hand they are dealt in life.
My decision to stand as a candidate is built on this – and my experience of the last ten years during which my legal career has led to me working closely with local councils, including Auckland Council, Waitakere City and Rodney District.
It has given me a good understanding of the massive challenges our towns and cities are facing in terms of transport and infrastructure, growth management and intensification issues, housing affordability and broader environment challenges.
These are some of the issues that this Government isn’t addressing well. It is tired and out of ideas. It holds entrenched positions and tends to use Band Aid or short-term solutions, rather than well thought-through policy.
East Coast Bays was always going to be a challenging campaign – not just because of the distractions of the ‘will they, won’t they’ National/Conservative issue. Boundary changes have meant some of the key Labour areas have been removed and we have had a period of rebuilding within the local LEC.
The campaign however is now full steam ahead, and we have a full programme of street corner and cottage meetings, phone canvassing, door knocking, and various other activities planned.
Our campaign needs to be focussed on maximising the Labour share of the party vote. That is crucial. We also need to reach out to voters with smart, well-communicated messaging based on canvassing and networking with the community.
There’s a lot of work to be done – if you can help, whether you would like to deliver direct mail or help with doorknocking or phone canvassing, we’d love to hear from you.
If you would like to get involved in this year’s campaign, it’s really easy.
Just click here and someone will get in touch.