Valedictories

July 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Some extracts from the delivered yesterday:

Dr (National): Six years ago when I came into Parliament, some queried why: “Why has he come in? Does Parliament need yet another doctor?”. When I announced my intention to step down, again some queried: “Why him? Surely some mistake? Parliament is losing too many of its doctors.” There was no talk, as far as I know, of McCully having any incriminating photographs. 

Can’t rule it out though! :-)

No Government can legislate love, but through careful formulation of policies and legislation we are succeeding in wrapping services around the most vulnerable and the less well loved. People need something to believe in and someone to believe in them. 

Very true.

In my maiden speech I outlined areas of special interest to me. Among them were: tackling New Zealand’s growing incidence of obesity, the need for more marine reserves, and a prostate cancer awareness programme for New Zealand men. I soon learnt some fundamental truths of Parliamentary life: few things move fast. As the French say: “Petit à petit l’oiseau fait le nid.” Little by little the bird makes the nest. One can plant seeds in soil, but the soil receiving the seed may or may not be fertile. The idea might lie there quiescent forever or receive a burst of interest from an unexpected quarter and suddenly flourish and be accepted. Certainly one never achieves anything in this House alone and success truly has a thousand fathers. I am gratified to note that the Government has made progress in all the above special interest areas, which I mentioned in my maiden speech, but today I make a call for more resources to be devoted to proven measures to combat the alarming incidence of obesity in New Zealand. The cost of such interventions will amply repay themselves in substantially reduced health care costs and in thousands of New Zealanders living longer, healthier, more productive lives.

I’m in favour of anti-obesity measures so long as they are about promoting choices, not taking them away.

(National – Wairarapa): This afternoon I come to say farewell and to share a few final thoughts with you, my colleagues, and the Wairarapa community. But first I want to thank the Wairarapa, * Tararua, and * Central Hawke’s Bay communities who three times elected me as their representative, each time by a greater margin. 

The seat was previously held by Labour.

Much of my first term here was spent reflecting on why I had come. The atmosphere was toxic, not helped by a Speaker who was shrill and screamed and loopy committee chairs * Pettis and Yates.

The good old days!

Were I New Zealand’s next Prime Minister, I would ensure that the next Parliament got rid of a plethora of unnecessary legislation and excessive regulation. Three years is not long enough. This year’s election is going to cost taxpayers $27 million, together with the time they have invested in MPs who are going to be distracted by parliamentary campaigning. Were I Prime Minister—and do not laugh, Brendan; it is not too late to nominate—I would promote a 4 or 5 year term to spread the cost over more years. Doing so would give Parliament a more reasonable time to implement its programmes.

I strongly support a longer term.

I was pleased in the last Parliament to complete a * Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee inquiry into New Zealand’s relationship with the South Pacific. The Government did not have a majority on the committee, and the report had more than 40 recommendations unanimously supported by all parties. 

That was very well done.

(National): Thank you very much indeed for the call to give my valedictory statement. It is a privilege that is given to retirees—15 minutes of uninterrupted discourse, where the opportunity is given to say it the way it really is and the way I see it, and I intend to do that now. If we glance overseas back to Westminster, where our parliamentary system began before it was improved by the New Zealand system, we see that the parliamentary media over there have adopted the sobriquet of “pale, male, and stale” for those whose Cabinet warrants Mr Cameron should no longer hold. How cruel! How cruel is that to sensitive people? Well, if you cannot take the heat, do not stand in the kitchen. 

Very good advice.

I have achieved more for the electorate in the last year in the cumulative improvement in West Coast – Tasman health infrastructure than ever before, and have we not had such a wonderful Minister of Health?

Chris fought hard for the new hospital.

 I do not know of any other serving National MPs who are 69 years old, but as we sign up to 3 year brackets of tenure, would you really want to still be trundling around Parliament at 72? You need quite an ego if you thought you could not be replaced effectively by a younger person. I guess the only extenuating circumstance would be if you were a party leader who had a Scottish mother from the Isle of Skye, but even then you would be pushing it.

A great not too subtle poke at Winston.

 For me, the most significant part of the parliamentary process as a backbencher* is the select committee system. This is our second House, our senate, our * House of Lords, as this is where the public have a direct interface with the legislative process. This is where the public are asked what they think of the legislation being put forward. In my experience, the adversarial relationship between parties and individual members is subsumed to less of a partisan system, where members each consider the evidence put before them in submissions from people, often based on a personal or observed experience.

We do have a very good select committee system.

(National – Kaikōura): Thank you for this opportunity to make this, my final statement in the debating chamber* of the 50th Parliament of New Zealand. May I begin by acknowledging some of those who have put up with the 4-metre swells across Cook Strait* today to be with us

Sounds a normal day on Cook Strait!

Sir Henry Maine, speaking on social structure, put it well when he said: “Nobody is at liberty to attack private property and to say at the same time that he values civilisation. The history of the two cannot be disentangled, for the institution of private property has been a wonderful institution for teaching man and woman responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labour, to be able to see one’s work made manifest, to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity, to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment, to have something that is really one’s own. There are advantages with this difficult to deny.” In drafting policy and bringing forth legislation in this House, may all members continue to recognise the value of those who toil in the sun or labour under the tin roof, neither despising the value of that work or thinking that it is beyond one’s dignity, because the wealth of this nation was created on the back of physically demanding labour. 

Great quote.

Hon (National – Napier): In life there are many different definitions of success, and in Parliament the same goes. There are many different definitions of what makes a successful politician. Nine years ago I entered Parliament, and I have got to say I was pretty naïve. Some would probably argue that that has not changed too much. I had just won the Labour-held seat of Napier, the first time in 50 years, and I thought I had been pretty successful at that point in time. But like all politicians across this House, I entered this place with the intention of helping to create a better New Zealand. We all have the same purpose, just different ideas of how we might achieve that goal. But success in Parliament is not defined by just winning a seat or becoming a Cabinet Minister.

Very true.

One of the more memorable experiences was being asked to be the guest of the Go Natural Lifestyle Club to open its new gazebo. I consulted my wife, Angela, as I was too scared to go on my own. She agreed to join me. I spent more time that Saturday morning deciding what to wear than to any other occasion I have ever been to since. Should I be in casual or formal dress, or should I be in my birthday suit? Who knows? Well, we arrived at 11.30 a.m., in time for a tour and lunch. To this day I will never forget driving up the pine-enclosed complex, pulling over in the car-park*, , and watching the reception party walk down to greet us both. Ange leaned over and whispered in my ear: “My God, CJ, they really are naked.”

Heh.

To Mac Dalton, Alistair Shelton, Pat Humphries, and Stefan Slooten, who have supported me in my parliamentary office, thank you. In particular, can I acknowledge Pat Humphries, who has worked in this amazing institution for much of her life. From junior backbench MPs to two Prime Ministers, Pat Humphries has supported MPs to rise to the top of the ladder. Pat, thank you.

Pat is a legend.

I am proud to see how much progress has been made in the area of Treaty settlements and to see the huge progress in my own rohe. Although there are still settlements that need to be completed, we are in a totally different place from where we started. The Hon Chris Finlayson will be knighted at a future time for his service in this area. You can hold me to that!

I think Chris would rather be a Judge – or a Cardinal!

Hon (National – Waimakariri): When I first entered this House 9 years ago I was a list member of Parliament in a Labour-held safe seat. I leave this place as the electorate member of Parliament for Waimakariri in a National-held seat. This just goes to show that anything can happen and one should never ever take one’s electorates for granted. 

To win the seat off Clayton Cosgrove is no mean thing.

They say things happen in threes. Well, I was a member of Parliament in Canterbury. Under my watch the worst natural disaster, the earthquakes, happened. I was Minister of Conservation. Under my watch the worst environmental maritime disaster, the * Rena, happened. And I was Minister of Labour. Under my watch the worst workplace safety disaster, Pike River, happened. Can I say that at least as * Associate Minister of Immigration I did not let ** Mike Tyson into the country. Like every Canterbury member of Parliament, the earthquake events will always stand out for me. What a remarkable time to be a member of Parliament for an electorate and in a home town that was devastated by the earthquakes. I feel honoured to have helped our district in my capacity as MP through what has surely been its darkest time, from shovelling silt during those early days to informing residents of each and every new service and funding the National-led Government provided towards our recovery, as well as the hours and hours of work helping our residents navigate through the repair and rebuild of their homes. 

I think all Christchurch MPs have had a special connection with their constituents as they help them through the disaster.

The ink on my warrant barely had time to dry when I was told that my 90-day trial bill would be one of the first in our term to go on the * Order Paper. It has now been in place for just on 6 years. The protections we built into the legislation worked, and in that time there has been no amendment needed apart from, of course, extending it from small businesses to all businesses. Indeed, that one piece of policy and legislation was credited with having provided 13,000 new jobs in its first year. 

Yet Labour want to abolish it.

Most memorable, sadly, was the Pike River mining tragedy. I cannot resile from the absolute fact that 29 men died under my watch. Although I was not personally responsible, I was the responsible Minister, and it happened under my watch. We all wish we could turn back the clock and prevent such a disaster and keep those men safe. We cannot, but I am proud of the setting up of the Royal commission inquiry and now implementing its recommendations, putting the spotlight on workplace safety. We often have a national culture of “she’ll be right”, but it too often is not right. We lose a worker about once a week and a farmer once a month, and a farmer is hurt about every 30 minutes. So often those deaths and injuries could have been avoided. We need to change that culture and simply look after our workmates. Governments can only do so much and can only be so effective. Workplaces and workmates can do more. 

Workplace safety is indeed a shared responsibility.

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5 Responses to “Valedictories”

  1. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    What a shame not to be reporting on valedictories for Mallard, King, Goff, Dunne, Peters…

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  2. Bill Courtney (161 comments) says:

    I have appeared in front of the Education and Science Committee on several occasions now over the past 4 years. I would like to pay tribute to Dr Cam Calder, whose Chairmanship of that Committee has been exemplary.

    I always found him to be very courteous and fair he went to great lengths to make submitters feel at ease, which is not an easy thing to achieve. I believe he is also well regarded by members on both sides of the Committee.

    A finer gentleman you will not find and he will be missed.

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  3. Jinky (185 comments) says:

    What a shame not to be reporting on valedictory for Gerry Brownlee. King of Christchurch and now feels he’s above needing to go through security checks at airports!!. Luckily for him the PM has refused to accept his resignation!!??

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  4. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Bill C: I endorse what you say about Cam…great guy, and a loss to parliament…the sad reality is there is only so many slots available for middle aged white men in the Cabinet…While Labour is far worse at “slot filling”, unfortunately the Nats do it too…I can think of at least one woman who is most definitely not cabinet material if it was on merit only…

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  5. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    DPF: together with the time they have invested in MPs who are going to be distracted by parliamentary campaigning.

    And that’s obviously why voters love three years. It’s the purpose that these MPs are distracted, and not create more legislation.

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