Medicine access a priority

Todd Stephenson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Todd Stephenson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Proper access for New Zealanders to critical medications will be one of his priorities, new Act New Zealand Southland list MP Todd Stephenson says.

In his maiden speech to the House yesterday Mr Stephenson, who until his election last year worked in the medicines industry in Australia, said that time had been insightful and rewarding.

"I got to understand the day-to-day issues of people living with various diseases.

"I also learned of the importance of the patient voice in the health system.

"I’m committed to working with David (Act leader David Seymour) to deliver a modern, efficient, and effective medicines access process so Kiwis can get the world’s best treatments.

"We won’t be able to do this alone and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with all those in the sector."

Although he had lived in Australia from 2006 until recently, he was quick to point out that Southland was his birthplace and would always be home.

"I was born in Lumsden.

"At the time my parents lived in Te Anau, and with no maternity services in there, mothers in labour went to Lumsden.

"I very much enjoyed during the election campaign people coming up and telling me they were also born in Lumsden.

"I recently discovered there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to people born in Lumsden and I’m on it."

Mr Stephenson then established his Scarfie credibility by talking about his time at the University of Otago.

He then worked in the office of prominent Dunedin lawyer Judith Ablett-Kerr KC.

It was at Otago where he discovered politics.

"I discovered what I believed in, that I was a classical liberal, and I found my political party.

"The ideas of individual freedom and personal responsibility.

"That the role the state should be limited.

"I joined Act New Zealand on its formation, and went on to campaign for the party at four general elections, work for it ... and was twice elected to the Act Board.

"I’m proud that I’ve only ever voted Act, supporting the party even in the most bleakest of times when the liberal flame was almost extinguished."