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Locke to retire at election

26 January 2011

Locke to retire at election

Green MP Keith Locke announced today that he will not run again at the next election, but promised a busy 12th and final year in Parliament.

Mr Locke said it would be time to move onto other projects after the 2011 election: “The National Government can’t relax just yet. I will keep up the political pace right through to the election. The Search and Surveillance Bill and the SIS Amendment Bill will not have an easy ride through Parliament, and I will keep campaigning for my Bill of Rights Amendment Bill as well as for the withdrawal of SAS troops from Afghanistan.” 

The 66-year-old said he was proud of his achievements as a human rights watchdog and peace advocate.  “I’ll probably be remembered as the MP who most strongly resisted legislation inspired by the ‘war on terror’ which has eroded our civil liberties.

“Perhaps my efforts mean that our anti-terrorism and security laws are not so draconian as they are in some other Western countries.”

The Auckland MP said one of his most gratifying moments during his four terms was helping Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui gain his New Zealand residence: “I was proud to be Mr Zaoui’s parliamentary advocate during his five year battle with the Security Intelligence Service and other state agencies.”

Mr Locke said he was also pleased to have inspired greater debate about intelligence services, both by challenging the SIS for keeping a file on him while an MP, and trying to break down the wall of secrecy around the Waihopai spy base.

“Throughout my term I’ve tried to steer New Zealand foreign policy in a more independent direction, less tied to American interests. Successes of which I was a part include getting rid of our air combat force, staying out of the Iraq war, and New Zealand playing a leading role in a treaty to ban cluster bombs.

“I’ve been honoured to be a parliamentary spokesperson for those suffering human rights abuses in China, Burma, Palestine, Tonga and many other places. And I hope I’ve embarrassed the Government so that the next time the Dalai Lama visits there won’t be a ban on Ministers meeting him.”

Mr Locke also kick-started the parliamentary debate on whether New Zealand should become a republic: “Even though my Head of State Referenda Bill failed to get a majority in the House, I’m confident we will be a republic in the not-too-distant future.

“As an Auckland MP I’ve played a significant role in redirecting attention and finance into public transport. In 2006, working in tandem with Rodney Hide, I galvanised a successful campaign to stop the construction of an expensive and misplaced waterfront stadium.”

Among his projects after leaving Parliament would be writing political history – including that of the Green Party – and engaging more with global Green organisations, Mr Locke said. “Even when I am not operating from a parliamentary platform, those who start wars and abuse human rights will not escape my attention.”

ENDS

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