Grant Robertson has been described as the ‘most talented Labour MP’, and if Labour is one of the parties in the new government after the September General Election, he could be the new Minister of Finance. express talked to Grant recently (and just after he launched his bid for the leadership three years ago) to see what drives him and his desire to be in politics.
Firstly who is Grant Robertson? Grant is the current MP for Wellington Central. He is currently the Labour Party spokesperson for finance and employment, but entered politics in and became an MP back in 2008. His interests include NZ literature, music, sport, cooking and film. He played rugby where he met his partner Alf. They had a civil union in 2009 and live together in Wellington.
Grant says that his political heroes include David Lange, Michael Joseph Savage, Peter Fraser and more lately Helen Clark.
“She remains a person who I regard as a real inspiration too.” He says, “I want the Labour Party to lead on the issues of the future and I think that is something we haven’t done enough on. Automation is rapidly taking jobs away from employees and causing anxiety in many sectors. All parties are “pussy – footing” around this developing reality and there seems little clarification in terms of forward policy on how to combat this employment threat.”
He continues. “No doubt MP’s find it a difficult topic to confront, especially so close to an election, but just because we don’t discuss the problem means it will go away.”
On social justice and environmental issues, Grant is outspoken. “Issues such as climate change and the growing gap between the rich and poor – we need to have strategies to deal with these. “ ”I want Labour to be a party that is part of our communities and is looking to the future. In terms of New Zealand, my vision is for a country where we provide the richest possible opportunities to all our people. And do that by supporting the hopes and aspirations of individuals to achieve their potential. That’s not about a government telling people what to do; it’s about being there alongside them.”
In 2014, Grant says that Labour has lost a connection with a lot of New Zealanders, with people struggling to grasp what Labour is. Now he says Labour is clear. “For me, it is about using our set of values to show that we are on the side of all New Zealanders, that we are there for everybody, not just a select group and that’s really important that people see all that about Labour and that they are inspired by Labour and our vision.”
“I am who I am” says Grant when questioned about his sexuality.
“I think New Zealanders should be proud of the advances as a country which we have made in human rights issues.”
“I didn’t get involved in the Labour Party because I was gay: I got involved in the Labour Party because of the values it stands for”.
Robertson is well known, liked and respected in both the political arena and the LGBT+ community. The gay community has been a strong supporter of Labour in the past “because we have always stood by the community and that’s because of our values and that is because we believe in equality and fairness.”
Since winning the Wellington Central seat in 2008 with a majority of 1900 votes, his majority grew to 6400 in 2011, and 8267 in 2014.
Contributing writers: James Peters and Levi Joule