Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

The backbenchers: Eugenie Sage, Green Party

Eugenie Sage has been in Parliament for one year as a Christchurch-based Green Party list MP. She talks to political editor Audrey Young.

Working on getting a referendum on asset ownership has been a high point for Eugenie Sage. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Working on getting a referendum on asset ownership has been a high point for Eugenie Sage. Photo / Mark Mitchell

What have you found most rewarding about the past year? Probably the work on the Keep Our Assets petition because we are very close to lodging that with the Clerk's Office and getting a referendum. MPs had a target for the spring collection - 360 signatures in a month - so we have been out on the ground encouraging people to sign, talking about the whole issue.

Has there been a low point? Probably the Local Government bill going through the House, the Mixed Ownership bill going through and the Exclusive Economic Zone bill going through. We've now got legislation where potentially having oil exploration is a permitted activity so the scope for doing the right thing there, of getting a world-leading system of oceans management, and we ... have got such permissive legislation that doesn't safeguard the oceans or promote sustainable development.

What is the most frustrating thing about working at Parliament? The range of issues you have to deal with and not being able to deal with them with the depth I would have before coming here.

And when you get a bill like the Local Government Bill with over 600 submissions and the Government wouldn't change anything significant in the bill. You see a huge amount of time and energy being put in by individuals and organisations into the law-making process at the heart of democracy and yet that just being disregarded.

What MP outside your party impresses you? Probably Lianne Dalziel [Labour] for her commitment in Christchurch particularly to Christchurch East and the huge amount of constituency work that she does. Also I admire Charles Chauvel [Labour] for his sharp mind, cool analysis and generous spirit.

Do you have a bill in the private members' bill ballot? No, but I am going to draft one probably on the protection of long-finned eels.

Do you engage in Facebook, Twitter or other social media? Facebook I have got better at. Twitter, much to my chagrin, I have yet to get engaged with.

What is your position on the same-sex marriage bill? I support it of course, marriage equality. It is giving everybody the same right to a marriage as a committed relationship.

Name one of your heroes outside politics. The late great Kevin Smith who was the conservation director of Forest and Bird just for his commitment and vision really in terms of the South West (Westland) World Heritage Area. Molesworth, we wouldn't have that as a conservation park if it weren't for Kevin's work. He was my boss at Forest and Bird through the 90s.

What books are you reading or planning to over the summer? Just finishing Wolf Hall (about Oliver Cromwell) and am going to read Bring up the Bodies (the politics of Tudor England) by Hilary Mantel. I'll probably read more fiction because I've had virtually no opportunity to read fiction this year. I'm looking forward to reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.

What's one of the best shows or concerts you've been to in recent years? Emmy Lou Harris probably in Christchurch Town Hall which is one of the reasons we need to keep the Town Hall because the acoustics there are just amazing. She was incredible. She was just such a rock chick, really.

How are you unwinding over summer? Time outdoors and time in the garden. I hope to get away to the West Coast and am also visiting family with my parents on Guam. My brother lives there. I've never been there and he's been there about five years. From Google Earth, there's a whole lot of marine protected areas around the military base so the snorkelling is meant to be great.

Was there a beach that was special to you during your childhood? Yes, probably Lake Tarawera. One of the Rotorua Lakes. We used to go there for holidays a lot and swim and sail and had a little cottage there that my grandfather built. You had all the forest regrown post the eruption in 1886 and it was just a time to explore and swim and enjoy the summer and probably get too sunburnt.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 21 Sep 2014 13:33:48 Processing Time: 597ms