Liam Hehir writes:
Few National Party people emerged from last week with a lot of credit, but Christopher Finlayson is one who did.
One of the subjects of the leaked telephone discussions between leader Simon Bridges and renegade MP Jami Lee-Ross, the former attorney general responded with class and dignity.
The secret telephone recording listed Finlayson among a number of MPs who would be encouraged to leave Parliament to make room for new blood.
Asked about it following the release, he declined to take offence and simply noted that these things happened.
A great response indeed. People in political parties are constantly talking about who might leave, and who might come in.
He acknowledged, as most honest people would, that he has said things in the past that he is glad nobody had secretly taped.
I doubt there is anyone who would not look good if they were secretly taped.
A very accomplished lawyer – he argued before the Privy Council seven times – Finlayson entered Parliament in 2005.
He had long been involved with National before then, having joined it when he was still in high school. This probably explains why somebody so cultivated could also be so at ease and popular at regional party conferences. He is no partisan blowhard – but it is clear Finlayson is a party man through-and-through.
Chris was a Party Regional Chair, and I was very proud to be his Deputy Chair.
The careers of people like Finlayson are also one of the redeeming features of MMP. A list MP for the duration of his career, Finlayson stood five times in safe Labour seats. If by some fluke he had ever won an electorate, he probably would have demanded a recount.
That was the standing joke about Chris.
A Queens Counsel, he can pick up his legal career where he left it and continue to find meaning in doing something he loves. We should all be so lucky.
Finlayson’s time in politics was a period of service in his life. It has not been the exclusive focus of his career and ambition, so he has had the freedom to begin and end it on his own terms.
Chris would have taken a huge pay cut to be an MP. His motivation has been public service. And he has left behind a big legacy. He has also appointed a huge number of Judges.
At the end of the last Government he had appointed:
- Every member of the Supreme Court except the Chief Justice
- All 10 members of the Court of Appeal
- 37 of the 46 High Court Judges