Retiring MPs paid their last farewells today with little signs of bitterness and few regrets.
Tony Ryall acknowledged his family saying he told his wife he would only be in Parliament for six more years when they married though he thought he said six terms.
The 1990 intake for National had more than 30 MPs “more than many caucuses”.
“I seem to have forgotten a lot, because I thought I knew everything then.” David Lange and Robert Muldoon had been in Parliament. He had eaten with Muldoon and they had sat in silence for 50 minutes before Muldoon got up and left saying “that was great, we must do it again”.
Ryall spoke about his role in installing Jenny Shipley as the country’s first woman prime minister. The nine years in opposition which followed had been frustrating, but a time to learn.
Of his electorate, Ryall said “we’ve had lots of disasters in our region “floods…slips…labour governments…and we’ve survived them all”
On being health minister (considered by many to be the toughest portfolio) Ryall said: “Every day I wake up and turn to my wife and say ‘phew – imagine being Minister of Education,’.”
Paul Hutchinson paid tribute to the House of Representatives and all those who had died defending democracy. He had come to Parliament marvelling at the diversity in the Greens with Nandor Tanczos and Sue Bradford and said they looked rather more plain now.
He had never been ejected from Parliament despite the entreaties of his bench mate Tau Henare.
Phil Heatley sang the praises of the Speaker in his valedictory, before saying to David Carter “Sir, I can’t read your writing.” He praised his family for the forbearance and the wider National party. He spoke with humour about his highs and lows in politics. Heatley says he was abused by Labour after he lost his ministerial post: “Months later I still got the abuse, Nick Smith got the salary.”
Eric Roy said it was time for a change in life. Politics was like a crayfish pot, it was quite hard to get in, but once you were in it was hard to get out and even harder to get out undamaged.
Roy spoke about the tumultuous years in the run up to MMP when as a junior whip he had to keep the disparate parts of National organised. This included getting the complete overhaul of fisheries law through its committee stage and third reading in very short time ahead of the 1996 election. Roy also spoke of his battle with cancer
Shane Ardern said he had been in Parliament for many years and there was much he could say, but he wouldn’t. Ardern spoke of his time in the dairy industry and farming had moulded him and he was proud to leave Parliament as a farmer.
Ross Robertson said his passion in Parliament had been for education policy, which was vital for his electorate “when south Auckland wins, New Zealand wins”. He had entered Parliament after Rob Muldoon had set back the meat industry a decade and ever since then he believed increasing productivity was the key to New Zealand’s economic success.
Robertson said he had missed out in the charisma stakes, but lived by the idea “all politics is local” and had worked his electorate every weekend for a year and had sought to make them all his friends. “work is love made visible.”
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