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I am pleased to announce that I’ll be seeking the nomination to be Labour candidate for Christchurch Central. It is my belief that Central is the most important electorate in the country at the moment; it is a symbol of the destruction wrought by the quakes which has been beamed around the country and the world – but it is also a symbol of the failure and broken promises from the National-led government. Brownlee and his accomplices have presided over a man-made disaster, far worse that the one caused by mother nature, and I believe that I am the best person to lead Labour and Christchurch Central towards a resolution.

The rebuild should have been an opportunity to show how we, as a nation, can create a new vision for a fairer, more equal, more sustainable way of living in the 21st century, and yet this chance has been squandered. The hope and optimism that emerged in the immediate aftermath of the terror has now dissipated, almost completely, under the weight of disappointment with a lack of progress, frustration and obfuscation from EQC and insurance companies. Thanks to the resounding success of the People’s Choice team at last year’s local body elections, we now have a council that are ready to address the realities which the city faces. Despite being thrown a hospital pass by the previous administration, Lianne Dalziel and her council are trying to approach the significant issues the council faces with a maturity and responsibility not seen often in this city, post-quakes. Their approaches have fallen on deaf ears. I believe that the parliamentary opposition can no longer afford to stay silent on these issues: we need to provide more support for the council, who are of course representing the people of this city.

Further to this, Labour needs to start outlining what it will do differently if and when it forms a government after the next election. Would we continue with CERA in it’s existing format? How would we improve EQC, or work with insurance companies to ensure a better outcome for all parties involved? What is our position on the suburban expansion into the fertile farmland around the city, and the impacts it will have on our transport infrastructure? Would Labour support the anchor projects as they stand currently on the Blueprint, and if not, what would we do differently? After asking myself these questions for many months, I decided that the best way to have them answered was to put my name forward and ask the party as a whole.

I grew up in the south-west of the city, in an idyllic semi-rural setting. After my schooling at Hoon Hay Primary, Manning Intermediate – a victim of Parata’s needless restructuring – and Cashmere High School, I went on to Otago University. Here I studied for a BSc in Biochemistry, as well as a BA in Classics. I then returned to Christchurch, where I completed a Masters in Cellular and Molecular Biology. It was during this time that I first got involved with Labour in the Port Hills electorate. I’ve been helping Ruth Dyson and her team since before the 2008 election, and have been Chairperson of the Port Hills LEC since 2010. Working with Ruth, Martin and others has taught me invaluable experience on not just how to run a campaign, but how to run a winning campaign. But now, it’s the time for me to come back to Christchurch Central.

I’ve lived in Central for much of the last decade. I would have been a voter here at the last election, were it not for the quake destroying my flat on Lichfield St. It also took out the place I lived before that, in Cashel St, and the one before that, in Poplar Lane. But now, my partner and I are back living in town. We both walk to work – which is equal parts depressing and exciting. Every day, buildings are coming down, and the plants are getting slightly taller. As the plants grow, so does the anger – anger at the lack of progress, anger at the government prioritising pet projects over people, anger as we come to realise that dreams we had of rebuilding a better Christchurch are fast slipping from our grasp.

I want to run a campaign that puts the rebuild back into the political discussion. Now is the time for the opposition to offer a real alternative, to step up and let people know that there is a point of difference between us and the failed policies of Brownlee and Key. On February 23rd, 2011, John Key said this:

On behalf of the Government, let me be clear that no one will be left to walk this journey alone. New Zealand will walk this journey with you. We will be there every step of the way. Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test. I promise we will meet this test.

More than 3 years on, with thousands still struggling with EQC and their insurance companies, our most vulnerable people being told that the “free market” will sort out their housing issues, and with a central city that looks more like a war zone than a rebuild zone, I think we can say that this is a test which Key has failed. It’s time for a change, and I believe I’m the right man to usher that change in.

If you’re a Labour Party member in Christchurch Central, please consider supporting me – and if you aren’t, please consider joining up.

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