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Kevin Campbell's Maiden Speech


Kevin Campbell, Alliance MP

10 February 2000

Addington, Mr Speaker, is a small suburb in the Wigram Electorate within that great city of Christchurch, and Addington is where my story begins.

But before beginning I want to acknowledge the following:

I congratulate the Speaker on his election, and Helen Clark on being the first elected woman Prime Minister.

My river is the Waimakariri.

My mountain is Aoraki, the dominant peak among the Southern Alps.

My ancestors came to this land from Ireland.

The Campbells came directly to Addington making me a 4th generation Addingtonian.

The Cunneens settled at Broadfields marrying into the Ryans but my mother Eileen Cunneen arrived in Addington at age 7 years.

Mum and Dad both attended Sacred Heart Convent School as did my brother Francis and I. I am grateful for their love and nurturing in me my Catholic faith.

I pay tribute to the Sisters of the Missions and the Marist Brothers who educated me.

The Addington we grew up in had an interesting collection of social institutions that I have no doubt influenced my political thinking.

There was within that small suburb:

A prison An army barracks A psychiatric hospital Flour mill Sale yards A & P showgrounds Steel works Railway workshop

at which Dad worked Carmelite monastery ‘ (I am indebted to the Carmelites for their prayerful support over the years) Ours was the leading Catholic parish in ChCh diocese ‘ it served as our Marae Great socials at which Ray Columbus and the Invaders were regular performers The greatest Racetrack, in the southern hemisphere (which we ran around to get fit ‘ only when the horses weren’t on it!) Several sports clubs Three hotels And with a little geographic licence Mr Speaker, in Brougham Street there was an orphanage and a home for the elderly.

I’m sure you’ll agree that there was, in those institutions, a varied and vibrant Laboratory of Life giving us a sense of belonging and solidarity with those around us.

In that Laboratory Sir, I grew up with

a. A keen awareness

for the need for a decent society to adequately, compassionately and responsibly care for its mentally ill. Yet I witnessed as a lawyer over the past ten years, our mentally ill being paraded through the docks of our criminal courts like lambs to the slaughter, being sent to prisons instead of hospitals.

b. In Addington I grew up with a keen awareness

That a State owned railway was not just about providing a rail network but also about providing apprenticeships for young New Zealanders -

* ensuring a pool of skilled engineers and tradespeople; * having a Minister directly accountable for safety standards, not faceless directors of foreign-owned companies.

c. There I grew up with a keen awareness

That prisoners are fellow human beings with problems that need addressing in a restorative way. We would not tolerate a health system that locks infected persons in an isolation unit, never treating the infection, hoping it will go away and eventually releasing the untreated person back into an infected area. Yet that is what we have been doing with our prison system.

d. Addington gave me a keen awareness

That all children deserve a fair go in life ‘ right through to tertiary training. Yet I have seen our youth lead the world in suicide rates and those trying to get a tertiary qualification are shackled with debts of $15,000 + upwards before they start their working lives.

e. Addington gave me a keen awareness

That our elderly are to be respected and cared for especially in debilitating and humiliating sickness. Yet as a lawyer I had elderly clients coming to me asking if I could put their homes and savings in Trust to save them from government confiscation just in case they got sick and required long-term hospital care.

Even in Addington Sir, I grew up with a constant reminder of the importance of agriculture to our NZ economy. Yet in the Taranaki King Country By-election I stood alone among the Parties, then in this House to stand against the MAI ‘ a stand against the sell-out of potentially all our industries including our important agricultural sector.

So it’s little wonder Mr Speaker, that from that Laboratory of Life I served in the NZ Police, studied for the Catholic priesthood, worked for a couple of years as a farm labourer and then studied and practised law.

And little wonder too Sir that I decided to offer myself as an Alliance candidate first in 1996, again in the By-election in 1998 and again last year. Little wonder because it was the Alliance since its inception, leading the charge to restore NZ to the caring, fair and just society like it was when I grew up. The Alliance leading the charge to secure New Zealand’s economic sovereignty and now calling for regional development in a way not seen for 25 years.

I am proud now and privileged to be an Alliance member of this House, to contribute to a fairer society for all New Zealanders, to focus on policies that put people before dollars ‘ particularly the public provision of health, education and security in old age and with the courage to call for a restorative justice approach to our criminal justice problems, policies that serve not the interests of a few, not the interests of the many but that serve the common good of ALL.

I want to pay tribute to my family today, my wife Kathryn for the constant support throughout three campaigns in Taranaki-King-Country ‘ driving the many thousands of miles to and throughout that vast electorate enabling me to collect my thoughts for the next meeting.

To Julie, Brendon, Simon and David and their families, for your friendship and encouragement, to offer hope to the new generation of Britnee, Morgan and Paris.

To Kathryn’s parents Pat and Penny O’Connell who next week celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Thank you for welcoming me to the O’Connell family.

To all my family and friends gathered here today to support me, from Noel Consedine from that Laboratory of Addington through to John and Viv Bird from the Taranaki Farmers, thank you for your presence and to many others who could not be here but are with me in spirit, especially my brother Francis in Australia.

Many of my relatives have gone before me. I want to single out just one ‘ my Uncle, Michael Joseph (not Savage!) McIlhatton. Uncle Mick was born in Ireland and came eventually to that Laboratory of Life in Addington.

At an early age, I saw in Uncle Mick the example of a tireless behind-the-scenes worker for the NZ Labour Party. Working hard particularly for Mick Connolly in Yaldhurst, but also Norman Kirk in Kaiapo, Lyttelton and eventually Sydenham. He encouraged my interest in politics and was a great example. He never got to this House but was rewarded with Life Membership of the Labour Party. Fortunately he did not have to live through the betrayal of Rogernomics.

Today there are hundreds of people like him in the Alliance ‘ tireless workers for the Cause ‘ not seeking or wishing to enter this House but working hard to put those of us who are privileged to stand in their place.

To them I thank you all for your efforts. The Campaign Team under the leadership of Matt McCarten ‘ ‘from HO and always there to help’ and all his team - the regional organisers, regional reps, party executive, branch membership ‘ particular thanks to TKC here today, Jeanette Lawrence who welcomed me to Sydenham many years ago and Liz Maunsell and Brian Roughan who joined with me, and all members and supporters.

Candidates A particular thanks to those candidates whose efforts put us here. Mark Ryan here for a couple of weeks, who impressed us while here ‘ this House is the poorer without him. I look forward to his return with many other worthy Alliance candidates in 2002.

I want to single out just one candidate. Others will excuse my singling him out because he is also a long time and close friend. Dion Martin and his wife Maryann have supported me throughout my candidacy. Dion ‘Don’t Vote for Me’ Martin so labelled by the Press, because he sacrificed his personal vote in Rangitakei to ensure the Alliance Party vote. A stalwart of social justice who gave me the quote of Mahatma Ghandi and who would not forgive me if I didn’t speak it in this House - ‘when faced with any social injustice, it is not important that you do great things ‘ but it is important that you do something’.

All that great Alliance Team under the leadership of J.P. Anderton and the capable Deputy leadership of Sandra Lee backed by a competent dedicated team of fellow Alliance MPs.

Every Alliance candidate knocking on doors during election campaigns hears the constant mantra of praise for Jim Anderton. In summary, a man who stuck by what he believed in and has to be admired for his steadfast commitment to social and economic justice. (Jim) I’ll use a theological analogy. ‘I was there when they nailed you to the Cross’; I’m sure looking forward now to sharing in the Resurrection!

I want to touch briefly on three matters.

I was privileged to be the Alliance candidate during the TKC by-election and would like to think that I played some small part in bringing about the closer working relationship between Labour and the Alliance as a result of that by-election.

Not to agree on everything all the time but agreeing to unite, to stop the stupidity of the NR idealogy this country has endured for 16 years.

Shane Arden won the By-election narrowly, but he reinforced his position last year. I congratulate you Shane and wish you well ‘ look after the people of TKC as is your call and your duty. I’ll help whenever I can but must now focus as a list MP on all New Zealanders.

Last year we witnessed the Hikoi of Hope. My wife Kathryn walked from Cape Reinga to Wellington. To the organisers I congratulate your initiative to highlight the problems of health, education, housing, poverty and unemployment. But I sincerely ask ‘ did you not realise every step of the way and even before you set out, that the Alliance had the answers to all your concerns. I ask you to ponder that and remember it in 2002.

I want a special word spoken for the elderly Mr Speaker. To acknowledge the family/friends, around 90 years of age who are listening - Aunty Ann and Uncle Andy Heveldt, Nance Ryan, Beth Roughan (probably also listening to talkback to keep up with it all), Pat and Peg Cunneen, Annie Harnett, Sister Nellie Harnett (70 years a nun this month), Joy Goodwin, Anne Morrison, Margaret Cuttance and Olive Boyd (Julie Kilbride you’re far too young)!

Every election I stood I had elderly people tell me they were going to Australia to live with their children as elderly people get treated better over there. We must work together in this House to restore dignity and respect to our old people. To reward them for living long years, not punish them. I am proud to be part of the Alliance Caucus that has been at the helm of achieving a lift in (super) as a first step in this direction.

Finally Sir, for however long I may have the privilege to serve in this House I hope that it may be said that I always appreciated my role as a Servant of the People - a Guardian and Trustee of our great nation’s heritage, its assets, resources, environment and most importantly, its People.

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