The Finlayson valedictory

The galleries were packed for the valedictory of Chris Finlayson. People were no doubt hoping for his normal mix of charm, eloquence and verbal assault and they were not disappointed.  I recommend people read the whole transcript or view the video.

Some extracts:

 I want first to acknowledge my opponents. The Labour opponents that I had in Mana and Rongotai, Winnie Laban, Annette King, and Paul Eagle and their spouses, are very, very nice people. I really enjoyed their company. The campaigns were pleasant and issues-focused.

I especially acknowledge Annette’s husband Ray, who would sit through campaign meetings in Island Bay with a beatific smile on his face as Paul Tolich, Ken Findlay, and the rest of the Island Bay Labour gang yelled at me. I once told Ken Findlay in 2014 to sit down and shut up—I always had a special rapport with constituents.

Heh. 

I know my colleagues very well. By now, my colleagues will be whispering to one another that I’ve gone troppo. Well, fear not, because I now turn to talk about New Zealand First. The most I can say to them is: thank you very much for not choosing the National Party in 2017. As is well-known, I think we dodged a bullet.

So true.

I had a ministerial suite in Bowen House for about eight years. I did not want to move to the Beehive, but Mr Brownlee offered me Murray McCully’s seat if I agreed to speak to my colleagues from time to time. It was my staff who made me move. I tried to organise an exorcism of the suite, given that McCully had been there for eight years, but was told the incense would set off smoke alarms.

I think Murray would have enjoyed the exorcism.

I’ve almost forgiven Guyon Espiner, who taught me a very good lesson: do not appear on Morning Report just after you’ve woken up. I remember very well the morning he interviewed me and put a proposition to me from Metiria Turei, and I said, “Oh, well that’s what happens when one is dealing with a left-wing loon.” And he put another proposition to me, and I said, “Well, that’s what happens when one is dealing with a right-wing loon.”, and he said, “Well that commentator was John Key.” The message came down from the ninth floor that if I wanted to be Minister for Consumer Affairs I was on the right track.

Ouch.

 People have said some nice things about me in recent days but these people are the ones who made the settlements happen. I also acknowledge John Key and Bill English, without whose active support nothing would have been achieved. I say to Andrew Little that this is the best job in Government. Don’t worry about setbacks. Just when it seems a negotiation has gone all wrong something very good can and invariably does happen. I mean who knows, Sonny Tau could decide to go and live in Iceland!

Now that was biting. So very harsh, but funny.

But I do want to say something about two MPs I greatly admire. First, Gerry Brownlee: when the history of the Key Government is written, his work rebuilding a shattered city will be regarded as that Government’s greatest achievement. I witnessed in Cabinet his absolute commitment to and compassion for his fellow Cantabrians. Sometimes I felt that his contribution has been taken for granted—well, not by me, because I think he’s a great New Zealander.
And secondly I want to acknowledge Nikki Kaye, who won Auckland Central in 2008 and has held it since then. Auckland Central is very like Rongotai, except Nikki wins Auckland Central. She was a Minister with a brilliant future and, as we know, was very unwell last year, but she fought that cancer and is doing a tremendous job in Opposition. I strongly support her bill on teaching foreign languages. She’s an example to all of us of grit, of courage, and of determination.

Very nice and moving tributes to Gerry and Nikki.

Members probably know the old wisecrack, “Some people please wherever they go; other people please whenever they go.”, and I’m sure many will be thinking the second part applies to me—although, I understand, not Mr Robertson. I have it on excellent authority that he’s distraught and is currently undergoing counselling.

Heh.

In 2005, Michael Cullen said in the Address in Reply debate that he wasn’t convinced of “this sort of Latinate habit of everyone kissing each other after every maiden speech”, and I agree. It’s a dreadful habit. I think the same principle applies to , so Mr Speaker, fellow members of the House, that’s all from me. If anyone needs a lawyer in the future, don’t bother me. All the best. Goodbye.

And on that note Chris walked out of the door behind him, avoiding the usual several minutes of hugs and handshakes and the sustained standing ovation.  Parliament has lost a very fine MP, but the legal profession has regained an even finer lawyer.

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