Queenstown is all but guaranteed of having a new MP based here after the October election and he’s keen to deliver for the resort.
This week, Act New Zealand ranked its Southland candidate Todd Stephenson at four on its party list which — based on current polling that has the party well over the 5% threshold — will see him comfortably make it into Parliament.
Next month, Stephenson will move into the Hanley’s Farm house he built with his Australian-born partner two years ago.
Born in Lumsden and schooled in Invercargill, Stephenson works as an executive for a multi-national healthcare company and as a consultant in Sydney, where he’s been living for the past 17 years.
Before that he was employed by Act from 1997 to 2000 and campaigned for the party in the ’96, ’99, ’02 and ’05 elections.
The openly-gay candidate will be Basin-bound once a ‘‘few work commitments are honoured’’ over the next few weeks.
‘‘My family are either in Queenstown, Invercargill or Te Anau, [so] a few years ago we decided we’d build a property here,’’ Stephenson tells Mountain Scene.
Although campaigning for the party vote as a list candidate, he ‘‘absolutely would advocate on behalf of the people of the Whakatipu district’’ when in Parliament.
‘‘Based in Queenstown, I’ll be very interested in understanding all the local issues and doing what I can to advocate for the people across the Whakatipu Basin and for all New Zealanders.
‘‘A lot of the issues people are concerned about in Queenstown and the Whakatipu Basin are probably the same things the rest of the country are worried about: the cost of living, increasing crime and issues around co-governance.
‘‘But I’m sure there are specific local issues that I’m looking forward to speaking to people about.’’
He’s keen not to be a clock-watcher.
‘‘I’m looking forward to getting back to NZ and actually hoping to deliver some real change for Kiwis.
‘‘That’s what I want to do, I’m not interested in just coming back and being in Parliament and not achieving something.’’