Who Is Charles Chauvel?

Labour Cabinet Minister, Jim Sutton has bitten the bullet and will be leaving Parliament on August 1st.

His replacement will be Number 44 on the Labour Party list, Wellington based lawyer Charles Chauvel.

Who is our newest MP?

From Gisborne, Charles Chauvel joined the Labour Party as a 15 in 1985.

By 1987 he was National Affairs officer for the Auckland University Students Association and chairman of the university’s famous Princess St branch of the Labour Party and president of the university Labour Club.

In 1988, he was elected President of Young Labour. In the era of “Rogernomics” many in Labour’s youth wing were well to the left of the main party.

Replying to far left criticism of his Labour allegiance, Chauvel justified his continued membership in NZ Monthly Review of October 1988.

“If it is “confused thinking” to remain and fight for socialism in a Party whose constitution commits it to that ideology” “then I am a confused thinker. I wish there were more of us: perhaps we’d have sufficient numbers to have de-selected Richard Prebble by now, and we’d be getting down to implementing socialist policy and bringing about the dictatorship of the proletariat

Charles Chauvel, President NZ Labour (Socialist) Youth.

Between 1989 and 1991 Chauvel served on the Party’s New Zealand Council. In 1990 he was on Labour’s Policy Council, and stood for the party in the general election against National’s Bill Birch in Maramarua.

Chauvel moved to Wellington in 1993 and has been active in the Rongotai electorate and is is currently co-chair of Labour’s gay wing, the Rainbow Branch.

Despite his youth Chauvel has considerable experience in the law.

His qualifications include; Legal Practitioner of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, 2002; Diploma in International Labour Standards, International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation, Turin, 2001; Honorary Fellow, Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars, Centre for International Legal Studies, Salzburg, 2000; Certificate, Public International Law, Hague Academy of International Law, 1995; Master of Jurisprudence (with Distinction), University of Auckland, 1994; Certificate, Health Economics (with Merit), Victoria University of Wellington, 1993; Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 1990; Bachelor of Laws (with Honours), Victoria University of Wellington, 1989.

In 2000, Chauvel becamea partner in the Minter Ellison Legal Group, one of the world’s 25 largest law firms.

Between 2000 and 2004, Chauvel was Deputy Presiding Member of the New Zealand Lotteries Commission. Between 2002 and 2005 he also served as a director of Meridian Energy Ltd.

Chauvel has been an activist lawyer, including a spell as Legal Officer for the Northern Hotel Workers’ Union. He has worked on several significant cases including, for the CTU, an important affirmation of the rights of casual workers to remedies on dismissal, litigation delineating the respective jurisdictions of the Employment Court and the High Court, and the first case under the Employment Contracts Act 1991 to be argued in the New Zealand Court of Appeal.

Chauvel has been a Trustee of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation from 1990 and chairman of the Foundations board in 1996. Chauvel has been very active in advocating for radical gay causes.

In 2001, before the Full Court of the High Court , he successfully defended a censorship appeal to restrict the availability of anti-gay hate literature.

According to the GayNZ website

“Chauvel has worked for the past 15 years on gay/lesbian legal issues… He was extensively involved in lobbying to pass the Human Rights Act in 1993, and also was involved in the campaign to pass the Civil Union Act.

He acted as counsel on a pro-bono basis in 1994 in a case before the Indecent Publications Tribunal seeking to classify fundamentalist Christian anti-gay hate literature, and again before the High Court in 2000 in the infamous Living Word case, which involved videos of a similar nature.”

According to a press release from the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards… The High Court ruling in the Living Word case was overturned on appeal in a unanimous decision of the Full (five member) Court of the Court of Appeal (CA 58/00 dated 31/8/200). The classification decision that had ruled the so-called “anti-gay hate literature” (the two Living Word Christian videos highly critical of “gay”- ‘rights’ political activism and “gay” promiscuous lifestyle) to be “objectionable” and that was upheld by the High Court; was quashed on appeal by the Court of Appeal.

The National Business Review of February the 2nd, 2005 claimed that Charles Chauvel had designs on becoming the next attorney-general should Labour succeed in winning the 2005 election and that he was close to [former] Attorney-General, Margaret Wilson.

Ironically, Rodney Hide’s victory in Epsom, was all that kept Chauvel out of Parliament in 2005.

The question is, will Charles Chauvel use his position in Parliament to revive Labour’s push for “hate speech” legislation? My guess is that it will be regarded as too controversial for this term, but that Chauvel will take up the issue should Labour win in 2008.

One more very good reason to make sure ACT and National win the next election.

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