Green Party veteran Keith Locke to retire

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 09:04 26/01/2011

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Green Party MP Keith Locke will retire from politics at this year's election.

Locke's announcement this morning is the latest in a string of retirement announcements from political parties across Parliament.

Locke, a stalwart since being elected on the Green Party list in 1999, will be a big loss to his party.

His strong voice on republicanism, foreign affairs and human rights has made him a recognisable and respected MP.

Locke, 66, today said it would be time for him to move onto other projects after this year's election.

"The National Government can't relax just yet," he said.

"I will keep up the political pace right through to the election."

Locke said he was proud of his work 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," he said.

Locke singled out his contribution to helping Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui gain his New Zealand residence as one of his "most gratifying" moments in a 12 year career in Parliament.

"I was proud to be Mr Zaoui's parliamentary advocate during his five year battle with the Security Intelligence Service and other state agencies."

He was also a strong critic of what he called "the wall of secrecy" around the Waihopai spy base and became a vocal supporter of three men who attacked the base, deflating one of the balloons covering it.

Locke joins fellow Green Party veterans Jeanette Fitzsimons (already retired) and Sue Kedgley (also retiring at the election), on their way out of Parliament in this term.

A series of other National and Labour Party MPs have already announced they are going at the election.

Locke said he planned to write a political history once he was finished as an MP - including that of the Green Party. He also wanted to engage more with global Green organisations.

"Even when I am not operating from a parliamentary platform, those who start wars and abuse human rights will not escape my attention," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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