Kelvin Davis: Our moral obligation

Kelvin Davis stole the show at Labour’s 2019 conference with a hilarious speech about the formation of the coalition government. The party’s oft-underestimated deputy leader was again in the spotlight this year, but with a more solemn yet at times impassioned address outlining the country’s Covid-19 sacrifices. Here is the text:

Anne Guenole. Bernard Pope. Christo Tzanoudakis. Bob James. Alister Peter Brookland. Denis Moore. Jocelyn Finlayson. Eileen Hunter. Twelve New Zealanders from Christchurch. Two New Zealanders from Auckland.

Twenty-two people: mums, dads, grandfathers and grandmothers, best mates and loved ones. Twenty-two of our people, from our team of five million, lost their lives to Covid-19.

It is important that we remember them. It is important that we say their names. Covid-19 has taken away so much from us as a country, but nothing can compare to what Covid-19 took away from those 22 families.

Nothing can compare to those New Zealanders who lost a loved one during lockdown, who couldn’t say goodbye, who couldn’t have one last hug or hold their hand as they slipped away.

Were some of us one of the lucky ones? Imagine if we weren’t. Imagine, if I had read the name of your loved one. Imagine if you had never got to say your final goodbye.

You see, that is who we are as a country. We can put ourselves in the shoes of others. Feel their loss, their sadness, their sacrifice. We are kind and we are caring. 

During lockdown, we placed teddy bears in our windows for the kids on our streets, we dropped food off to our neighbours who weren’t about to shop for themselves. We checked in on our friends, we stood at our driveways at 7pm and applauded our essential workers.

Together we did something great. Together we said: “Not another name shall be added to our list, not another family shall pay the price.”

We used Zoom. We all used Zoom. Some of us mastered the art, and some of us had to be continuously reminded we were on mute.

We looked after our kaumatua and kuia by taking them to the doctors, or dropping care packages off at their front door.

Some of us welcomed into our homes stranded tourists, who quickly became family.  Some of us – quite a few of us – nailed the art of baking bread.

We spent time with our families, went for walks together in the middle of the day. Our streets were quiet, our roads were empty. We stayed in our bubbles, we kept our distance and we washed our hands.

We, all of us, did this because that is who we are. We kept safe for our families. We kept safe for our friends. We took care of each other, and we saved lives.

I am so proud to be part of our team of five million. I am proud to be part of this Labour government – bold and brave. We went hard and we went early, and New Zealanders backed us. As a government, we did our job, and New Zealanders did theirs.

Together we did something great. Together we said: “Not another name shall be added to our list, not another family shall pay the price.”

'Winning an election is not a moral obligation'

Much has happened since we have come out of lockdown. Beards were trimmed, haircuts had, and the National Party got itself a new leader, new key messages, sadly all underpinned by the same old attitude.

The opposition said they have a moral obligation to win. No. Winning an election is not a moral obligation.

We are morally obligated to look after New Zealanders, our most vulnerable, our families and our children; to represent our diverse nation, to have people from all walks of life of every colour race and creed sit at the decision-making table.

To do what is best for New Zealand, to govern in the best interests of New Zealanders; to be honest, to be fair.

Part of National’s moral obligation is to win by advocating for us to move quicker, to open our borders faster, to get back to normal sooner.

They say it is “untenable” to leave our borders closed. The only thing that is untenable is putting our people at risk, when you know better.

I do not want to stand here and read out another name to you. I do not want to take your hand away from your loved one in their final moments.

I do not want to stand here and read out another name to you. I do not want to take your hand away from your loved one in their final moments.

I want to do everything I can do, everything this Labour government can do, to protect our people. That is my moral obligation.  That is why we need a Labour government.

Unlike the opposition we don’t have a moral obligation to win – there is nothing moral about winning at any cost.

Our moral obligation is to New Zealanders, to our team, to the 22 people who lost their lives.

To do what it takes to protect our people, to help our people, to be a government who takes care of its people.

That is what we will do. That is who we are, as a party and as a government.

It’s New Zealand, Aotearoa, our home.

So this year, at this election, let’s remember all we have done together, let’s remember the sacrifices that have been made – let’s remember who we are as a country.

Let’s vote Labour.

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