Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thankyou Keith Locke

I've just finished watching Keith Locke's valedictory speech. Keith has been in Parliament for twelve years, and during that time he's been a consistent voice for peace and human rights, for tolerance, secularism and republicanism. While he never had any of his bills passed, he unquestionably drove the debate, and changed things for the better, just by being there and speaking up and making sure that abuses were not allowed to happen in silence and that our government's hypocrisy on human rights did not go unchallenged.

Because of Keith, we don't have a sedition law anymore. Because of Keith, we no longer indefinitely detain refugees. Because of Keith, Ahmed Zaoui and his family are still in New Zealand rather than being deported in secret. These are achievements we should all be grateful for.

But now, after twelve years, he's going (though not far - apparently he'll be back on Parliament's front lawn with a placard whenever it is necessary). People have said the Greens won't be the same without him, and they won't - but at the same time, others will step forward to provide that voice. Kennedy Graham is already doing it in the case of international law. Someone else will no doubt step up to be the critic and conscience of the House on human rights issues and America's "war on terror". But Keith did those jobs while he was there, and he made our country a better place by doing them. And for that, I thank him.