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In for a penny, in for a pound: Davis

KERI MOLLOY
Last updated 16:11 24/04/2014
kelvin davis
NO INKLING: "I saw my photograph on television and thought, 'well, this is it. In for a penny, in for a pound,"' Kelvin Davis said.

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Kelvin Davis learned he had a new job at the same time as the rest of the country.

He was watching the 6pm news on Tuesday when the resignation of Labour list MP Shane Jones from Parliament was announced.

Davis will step up to become an MP as next on the list five months before he will contest the Te Tai Tokerau seat in the September general election.

Davis had had no inkling of Jones' departure.

The news was quickly confirmed in telephone calls that evening from Labour leader David Cunliffe and party president Moira Coatsworth.

"Within minutes my phone went berserk," Davis said.

"I saw my photograph on television and thought, 'well, this is it. In for a penny, in for a pound."'

Davis this week resigned from his job as senior partnership adviser for the Ministry of Education and today spent his first day "unemployed".

"I was going to leave work anyway to prepare for the election but this brought things forward," he said.

"I am disappointed that I have had to drop things that I was involved in."

Davis has been repeatedly asked if he felt he would be filling Jones' shoes.

"I'm not Shane," he said.

"I'm myself and I will be true to myself. If I was to try and imitate Shane Jones, I would fail dismally."

While Jones was seen as philosophically leaning to the Right of the Labour Party, Davis would not put a label on himself.

He saw himself playing a role as a representative of Maori in the party, but said he would deal with issues on their merits.

Living in the Far North where feelings are strong about the risks deep-sea oil exploration and toxic mining practices, balanced against the need for jobs, he is already taking a different path to pro-mining Jones.

"I'm opposed to deep-sea oil drilling," Davis said.

"We don't have an adequate safety net around the industry at this stage, though I may change that stance in time.

"I'm not opposed to mining on land in principle, but I would like to know what it takes to extract high-yield minerals in such a way that there is a low environmental impact."

Goldmining raises a red flag for him.

"In Australia they dig a big hole in the desert to get rid of the tailings. In Northland it is likely there would be a dam built in some valley, with risks.

"Goldmining can be highly destructive environmentally."

The former Kaitaia intermediate school principal entered Parliament on Labour's list in 2008. He contested the Te Tai Tokerau by-election in 2011 and the general election later that year, slashing incumbent and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira's 2008 majority.

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- Fairfax Media

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