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Valedictory Statements

Wednesday 28 September 2011 Hansard source (external site)

RirinuiHon MITA RIRINUI (Labour) Link to this

Tēnā koe kai te Kaihautū. Otirā, hei tīmatanga kōrero, ko te wehi ki a Ihowa, tūāuriuri, whāioio hoki nei me te rangi me te whenua, te nui o tāna korōriatanga; me te tuku whakamoemiti, whakawhetai ki a ia ki te wāhi ngaro mō āna manaakitanga ki runga i a tātou katoa i ngā rā ki muri tae noa mai nei ki te hāora o tēnei rā. Ngā whakamoemiti, ngā whakawhetai kai te tū tonu i te ao, i te pō, kai te tū tonu. Tatū atu ki a koe ki te Tumuaki o te Hāhi, inarā te kōrero, kua tae mai koe, kua tae mai te Pā o ngā Ariki, te Temapara Tapu o Ihowa me ōna manaakitanga katoa. Nō reira, tēnā koe, tēnā koe, tēnā koe.

Papaki tū ana ngā tai ki Mauao, i whakanukunukuhia, i whakanekenekehia. I whiua reretia e Hotu a Wahinerua ki te wai, ki tai wīwī, ki tai wāwā, ki te whaiao, ki te ao mārama, tihei mauri orā.

Tatū atu ki a koutou kai tāku iti, kai tāku rahi kua haere tawhiti mai rā, mai i Te Moana-a-Toi i runga i te karanga o tēnei rā ki te āwhina tēnei tā koutou mōkai, me tēnei tāku kauhau whakamutunga, tāku poroporoaki ki te Whare nei. Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga, ngā pāpaka o Rangataua mai i Whareroa ki Maungatapu puta noa ki Te Rereatukāhia, Tauranga Moana, Tauranga Tangata, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Whiti atu ki Te Arawa Waka mai i Maketū ki te tonga, ngā tini āhuatanga, ngā kārangaranga maha kai waenganui i a koutou, tēnei anō te mōkai e mihi ake nei ki a koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa i te āhuatanga o wā tātou tini aituā kua hinga atu rā ki wā tātou marae kai te hau kāinga. Me te mihi anō ki ngā whānau pani nā rātou koutou i whakawātea mai kia tae ā-tinana mai ki te Whare nei ki te tautoko i ahau i tēnei hāora. Nō reira, kāre e kukume kia roa, kai te haere te wā, nō reira, tēnei āku mihi ki a koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Hoki mai ki a koe kai te Kaihautū o te Whare, ngā mema hōnore katoa ahakoa ko wai, ahakoa nō hea, ahakoa he aha te kaupapa i tae mai ai koutou, otirā, tātou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

[Thank you, Mr Speaker. To begin with, my respects to the Lord, to the great void, to the multitude, to heaven and earth, and the greatness of his glory; praises and gratefulness to the hidden place and the kindness it bestowed upon us all in days past, right up to this hour today. Praises and thanks remain, day and night. My gaze settles upon you, the head of the Church, and the saying is that your arrival here signifies that the courtyard of Rātana, the sacred temple of the Lord, and all its kindness, are here as well. Fond greetings to you.

The waves beat continuously against Mauao, shifting and moving, ever so endlessly, forward and back. It was here that Wahineroa was cast by Hotu into the tide, the swirling waters and roaring ocean, to emerge into the light of day and the world of enlightenment; behold the breath of life.

My gaze alight upon you, my meek and mighty who have journeyed here from far off Bay of Plenty in response to today’s call to come and help this servant of yours in this final address and valedictory statement of mine to this House. To you, the people of Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga, the crabs of Rangataua from Whareroa to Maungatapu and out to Te Rereatukāhia, to the sea and people of Tauranga, fond greetings to you all.

I cross now to the canoe of Te Arawa from Maketū to the south, to the myriad of circumstances and the many callings among you; this servant of yours acknowledges and salutes you all as well, in the light of our many deaths that have fallen on our courtyards back home. I thank the grieving families, as well, for allowing you to come here in person to this House to support me at this hour. So I will not prolong this any further, as time is moving along, but my fond acknowledgments to you all.

So I come back to you, Mr Speaker of the House, and all honourable members, regardless of whom they represent, where they come from, or what it is that brought you and each of us here. Greetings to all of us, greetings, greetings .]

I came to Parliament as a new MP in 1999. During the time that has elapsed since then I have been part of the Government, I have been a Minister, I have been a constituency MP, I have been a list MP, and I have been part of the Opposition. One might say that I have experienced close to the full ambit of what the electoral system, the party system, and this Parliament itself have to offer.

There have, of course, been the highs and the lows. In this review I will begin with the highs and leave it to the members of this House to judge whether these outweigh the lows. The point I should make from the outset, however, is that my experiences in the last 12 years, for the most part, have been personally enriching and rewarding. I appreciate the opportunities I had as an Associate Minister of Health to help shape policies designed to improve the health and well-being of Māori people across the country, to progress the implementation of the Māori Health Strategy, and to support Māori health providers operating at the local level. Features of the health sector that I find heartening are the growing numbers of Māori medical practitioners and other Māori health professionals.

As the Associate Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations I had the opportunity to assist in progressing many of the Treaty claims that were settled during the time of the fifth Labour Government. I am especially proud of my contribution towards the resolution of those claims lodged by iwi from within my former constituency of Waiariki. These include the Te Arawa Lakes, affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapū, Ngāti Awa, and the central North Island settlement—the latter being the largest of the claims settled to date. I am also pleased to be associated with the settlement of the Ngā Wairiki / Ngāti Apa claim. This is an iwi that I have had a longstanding relationship with outside of this House.

The portfolios of corrections and forestry were not as demanding or onerous, but were no less important and rewarding. To the officials of each of the agencies—the Ministry of Health, the Office of Treaty Settlements, the Department of Corrections, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry—who provided me with the information, practical advice, and wise counsel that I needed in order to do each job well, I extend my heartfelt thanks.

For me, one of the real high points of my political career came with the passing of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Māori Constituency Empowering) Act 2001. The Act started out as a local bill, which I introduced in my capacity as the member for Waiariki. It provides for Environment Bay of Plenty to have three Māori constituency seats, thus enabling Māori on the Māori roll to vote for their own representatives. The bill, to say the least, had a rocky passage. There were numerous objections from local bodies as well as from other stakeholders, and there was strong opposition from some of the most senior members in this House. Some of them are still here. It was a daunting experience for a relative newcomer; I described it in my third reading speech as my baptism of fire. To this day Environment Bay of Plenty remains the only local authority in New Zealand to have Māori constituencies.

The other high point was being called upon to move the Address in Reply as part of my maiden speech. Going back to that speech, however, and reflecting on events since 2004 have left me with an uncomfortable sense of having dropped the ball. There were two main themes in my address that day in 2000. The first was a need to review and clarify the constitutional position of Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi. I even went as far as urging the early initiation of a process for seeking the views of the Māori people on how the constitutional talks recommended by the Royal Commission on the Electoral System in its 1986 report should proceed. An initial step towards this objective was taken in 2004-05 when the Constitutional Arrangements Committee sat to consider, amongst other things, New Zealand’s constitutional development since 1840 and the process that should be followed if reforms were to be considered in the future. The committee reported back to the House in 2005, but in the 2 to 3 years between then and the 2008 election, little was done by me or anyone else to progress the review.

The announcement by the current Government that as part of the confidence and supply agreement between the Māori Party and the National Party a full constitutional review is to be conducted over the next few years has reminded me of my original commitments. I welcome the fact that the Treaty and its place in our constitutional arrangements are to be included in that long conversation. I could not have asked for more than that, and I assure every member in this House that I will do all I can as a private citizen with some knowledge and experience in this area to encourage Māori individuals and organisations in my own rohe of Tauranga Moana to participate fully in the review.

The second theme of my maiden speech was my expectation that Māori generally—and iwi in my constituency of Waiariki, in particular—be treated fairly and equally in any dealings they might have with the Government. It is when I assess myself against this particular measuring stick that I am left with a keen sense of regret. In spite of being deeply involved with, and moved by, the depth of the protests and resistance evident in the sheer size of the foreshore and seabed hīkoi, I gritted my teeth and held the ground that had been agreed to, all the while being aware that the bill remained discriminatory, unfair, and unjust.

And then there were the Tūhoe raids. Although I was not privy to the briefings given to senior Ministers by the Commissioner of Police and others, and I acknowledge that my loyal colleague the Hon Parekura Horomia was very supportive at that time, I feel, in hindsight, that I should have at least voiced my concern about the way in which the operation was carried out. That I did not speak out publicly at any time during this episode is something that I regret deeply.

I recall a comment that Nandor Tanczos made in his valedictory speech. He said: “… most, MPs enter”—into Parliament—“with honest intentions, but we are compromised by this institution.” He told us that his mum, like my dad, believed that one had to get into the system to change it. But he warned that “… the system changes us as much as we change the system, if not more.” I have finally come to understand the wisdom of his comments, and now that I do, it is time for me to leave.

Māori society is changing. Old loyalties are fading and new ones are being forged. None of the longstanding social institutions or organisations that have held our allegiance in the past have come away unscathed. The New Zealand Māori Council, the Māori Women’s Welfare League, the Federation of Māori Authorities, the Kīngitanga, and the Rātana movement have all felt the effects of change.

Māori political allegiances are also changing. Over the years since MMP was introduced, Māori constituency voting has swung sharply between elections, and over time the vote for Labour has slowly eroded. The clean sweep of the Māori seats in 1996 by New Zealand First, the loss of four of the seven Māori seats following the takutai moana episode, and the loss of yet another after the Tūhoe raids suggest to me that Māori are using their votes for the seats as a means of censuring or endorsing political parties. I consider the changes to be positive. MMP seems to have brought competition. The Māori seats are getting more and more worth competing for. They are no longer a political backwater, as the Royal Commission on the Electoral System described them in 1986.

The emergence of a party whose main focus is on representing the interests of Māori is also positive. Its presence provides the necessary incentive for all parties to compete strongly for the Māori vote. It is difficult to tell how the Māori vote will pan out over the next few years, but there can be little doubt that the Māori vote can no longer be taken for granted.

As I said earlier on, my life certainly has been enriched in the time I have been in this House—three terms over 12 years. There are particular people who make one’s life not only enriching but bearable while we are here. I had the pleasure of working alongside some very, very committed Labour Māori members—we were known as the Māori caucus—with the leadership of our senior member, the Hon Parekura Horomia. We had diverse personalities: some were very calm and some were not so calm. Some were reliable and others were unreliable, but the point was that we all had a common purpose, and that was to serve the best interests of our people. I believe we did that to the best of our ability, and that was one enriching experience that I will take away with me.

I also acknowledge the camaraderie within the Labour caucus. As its members approach this year’s election they have a huge task ahead of them. I wish them all the best, and I will be doing my best in the Waiariki electorate to support the local Labour candidate, my whanaunga te whakaotinga Louis Te Kani. And we are committed to the purpose.

I make one statement very, very clear: I admire people who work hard and are committed to their beliefs. In saying that, I acknowledge the commitment of the Labour leader, the Hon Phil Goff, in the way he has led his party leading up to this election. But I have to say that I am very disappointed—very disappointed—with the Māori media. We as Māori members put our trust and faith in people of like minds—like us. I have wondered from time to time where the point of difference is between mainstream media and Māori media, but the deliberate mistranslation and misrepresentation of my comments over the last few days tell me that there is no point of difference. I say to the Māori media: “Get your act together, because your whanaunga are watching you every day, just as they are watching us. In time, you will understand what I mean.”

Once again, I go back to acknowledging those who make this institution a great place. There are people who walk the corridors and who have tasks at hand: the messengers, parliamentary security, the Parliamentary Service staff, ministerial staff, VIP transport—there are just so many groups within this institution to name that I am afraid I might miss a few out, and I apologise in advance.

I acknowledge, in particular, the camaraderie and whanaungatanga that we have had as Labour Māori caucus members with other Māori members in this House; there are no barriers to our whanaungatanga. We debate rigorously and that upsets a lot of people, but that is the people we are. We examine issues thoroughly; we debate them thoroughly, as our people do on the marae. But at the end of the day we are still whanaunga—we still go home and we still enjoy each other’s company regardless of the political divides that often separate us. So those acknowledgments are really, really important.

I acknowledge the support and confidence I have had from the people from home—from Mātaatua, Te Arawa, and Tākitimu. They are here today in the gallery, and I am humbled by their presence.

I had the privilege of having great mentors in years gone by. One of those mentors was a member of this House and a representative of Eastern Maori from 1969 up to 1981. He taught me some great lessons about this place. I had the privilege of sitting with the Hon Peter Tapsell, and also enjoying his mentorship. But those of the current generation are the ones I really want to acknowledge today: my uncles, my aunties. When they are not happy they do not say anything; when they are happy they say a lot. So when they are silent, I know I am in trouble. It sounds unusual, but that is how they are. I take this opportunity to thank them especially.

In the time I have left, I thank those who have worked alongside me: my electorate staff and parliamentary staff. I say a special thankyou to my executive assistant, Angela Bray. She multitasks. She can do a whole lot of things at the same time: manage the family, manage the office, and get me a cup of tea—all those sorts of things—without a complaint. That is something I have had the privilege of enjoying.

And my family—I came here in November 1999, after a rigorous campaign on the road with my dad every day; unfortunately, he did not make it here with me in the body. But in spirit he did. My mum: when I got in trouble I knew I was going to get a call—and I did. But especially my wife, Lindy, and our children. Once again, Lindy is chief cook and chief dishwasher, and she does everything that is necessary to keep the house running well while I am down here doing the best I can. When I came here I had no mokopuna, and I used to get a bit worried that I might go through life not having had the experience. Twelve years later I have four, so I am breathing a sigh of relief that I am having this experience with them. My life after politics will still be a busy life, but everything I do will include them. So I look forward to going back to my whenua in Tauranga, enjoying the company of my family and friends, and also observing and supporting—from a distance—my Labour colleagues here in the House.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I acknowledge you. I came into the House this afternoon not wearing a tie, and my colleagues panicked: “Oh my God!”—they said as they all reached for their ties—“Have mine. Have mine.” I never told them that I had been granted a waiver by you, Mr Speaker. I like surprises—pleasant surprises. But there is a reason for this. I remember Nandor Tanczos standing over there, taking off his watch, getting out a hammer, and smashing his watch, saying that he would never look at it again. It was an indication of a more relaxed lifestyle. Dover Samuels tried to do the same, but he thought about the consequences of bashing up a Rolex watch—when he got home. So as a substitute he sang us his version of “Pokare Kare Ana”. The reason I am not wearing a tie is that I intend to live a much more relaxed life post Parliament, and enjoy every day as it comes. So thank you, Mr Speaker, for that waiver, and thank you for upholding the dignity of this institution, which is very important to us all.

Nō reira, e hoa mā, tōku rangatira, kōrua tahi me koutou rā o te hau kāinga, koia nei mihi whakamutunga tāku nei ki te Whare nei, otirā, me ōna āhuatanga katoa, nō reira, nā runga i tēnā, ngā manaakitanga o Te Runga Rawa ki a koutou, ki a tātou katoa, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

[So to you, my fellow members, my leaders, both of you, and all of you from back home, this then is my final tribute to this House and everything that goes with it. May the tidings of The Great One Above be upon you collectively and all of us. Greetings, greetings.]

LockeKEITH LOCKE (Green) Link to this

It has been a great honour to be an MP these last 12 years. I have been lucky to have been here during the MMP era, in a much more representative Parliament. I am pleased with the way MMP has been improving with new innovations like Ministers outside Cabinet, which enables smaller parties to take on ministerial roles without submerging their political differences with the bigger party. Smaller parties now get a better hearing, and the Greens have been able to achieve some policy gains like the home insulation scheme without any formal support arrangement with the Government.

My suggestion to refine MMP further is to remove the fiction of an official Opposition with a Leader of the Opposition, which is a hangover from the two-party system. It does not belong in a multiparty Parliament where the parties vote for and against bills in different combinations. Also out of date is the Christian prayer that begins Parliament’s business each day. We need a more inclusive secular statement given that half of the members in this House are not religious or are of another faith.

I do commend the improvements made to question time under Speakers Jonathan Hunt, Margaret Wilson, and you, Mr Speaker. You have taken that bold new step of actually requiring Ministers to answer direct questions. I think we now have one of the best parliamentary question periods in the world, if not the best. Sometimes the shine is taken off question time by excessive noise as members shout across the floor. I have been amazed that this continues when every MP knows that no one outside this Chamber appreciates it.

The continuing rowdiness also hides another achievement of MMP during my time in Parliament, and that is the greater cooperative spirit and willingness to work together across party lines to progress political issues. I get a particular kick out of working successfully with parties furthest from the Greens in general philosophy. A few years ago, I organised a joint public protest meeting with Rodney Hide, which helped to halt Government plans for a new waterfront stadium in Auckland that would have visually mucked up what is now developing into a nice waterfront area. I also arranged a joint press conference with ACT, plus United Future and the Māori Party, to hurry up the repeal of the sedition laws, which we quickly achieved.

Not everything I did regarding Rodney Hide went to plan—not least my bet in 2005, carried on national TV, to walk down Broadway naked if he won the Epsom seat. Of course, Rodney won with the help of a certain then National Party leader Don Brash. I had no option but to carry through on my promise, treating it as a golden opportunity to showcase the talents of one of New Zealand’s foremost body artists, Phil Du-Chard. I am now less into gambling, although I am tempted to put something on the Warriors winning the NRL grand final this Sunday.

Another one of my successful cross-party political liaisons was with United Future leader, Peter Dunne, and the National Party to oppose provisions in the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Bill that would have drastically reduced public access to genealogical records. Peter Dunne and I made a joint submission to the select committee, which helped convince the then Labour Government that it had to rewrite the whole bill. This obscure bill may have directly benefited more New Zealanders than anything else I have done in Parliament because so many Kiwis are researching their family history.

As you might expect, coming from a strong trade union background, I have worked with Labour on lots of issues. I have enjoyed operating as part of a Green and Labour tag team in the House when anti-union laws come before us, as they too frequently do.

In most of my human rights work, the Māori Party and Mana have been good allies. Alongside the Greens, they have recognised how the laws and practices generated by the so-called “war on terror” erode our civil liberties. More New Zealanders see that now. It was not so easy in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when for the Greens I was advocating peaceful solutions opposing the war in Afghanistan and saying that we should not rush to adopt the Terrorism Suppression Act. Unfortunately when New Zealand bought into a “war on terror”, it had to come up with some terrorists, and in the absence of any in New Zealand, innocent people like Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui were targeted. I take great satisfaction that Ahmed Zaoui and his family are now well settled in New Zealand, and that I played a role in the 5-year campaign to achieve this. I am honoured that Mr Zaoui and his son are present with us today.

When people ask me what I have achieved, I always say that I can take only part of the credit for any of the successes. My role has been to advocate for causes on the parliamentary stage. In the Ahmed Zaoui case, although I played an important role, most of the credit has to go to the many fair-minded citizens who campaigned long and hard for Mr Zaoui’s freedom, his excellent lawyers Deborah Manning and Rodney Harrison, as well as a new SIS director Warren Tucker, who finally concluded that there was not a case. I also have Dr Tucker to thank for my SIS file, which will be a useful reference work for the history writing I plan to do in my retirement.

Politically, the thing that has most saddened me has been the ease with which legislation giving the police or SIS more powers or legislation extending sentences for crimes passes through this Parliament. Now we have anti-terrorism laws we do not need, and our jails are overflowing. I appeal to Parliament to try to find the brake pedal, or even—gasp—the reverse gear. It would be good in this respect to send a parliamentary delegation to Scandinavia to investigate how shorter sentences and an emphasis on rehabilitation actually works in reducing crime. Norway provided a great example to the world when it reacted to the recent mass killing with a march where people carried roses and pledged not to turn Norway into a security State.

On several issues I have looked more to Scandinavia than the Anglo nations like America, Britain, and Australia. For the last 12 years I have been a Green battler for New Zealand to be more independent in foreign affairs and defence, building on what we achieved in leaving ANZUS and becoming nuclear-free. There have been some successes. I can take some credit for helping create the political climate where Helen Clark could scrap the air combat force, which was of use only for fighting what Nicky Hager has termed “other people’s wars”. Now we have only to get rid of the two remaining frigates to be left with a navy more relevant to our practical defence tasks in the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean.

There is an independent, pioneering spirit within most New Zealanders that grates against subordination to American dictates. Many New Zealanders now rightly question whether America’s war in Afghanistan should be our war. One of the reasons I am so passionate about the need for New Zealand to take an independent stance is that the big Western powers are failing to address so many of the world’s problems, from climate change and the debt crisis to development needs and nuclear disarmament. New Zealand can play a vital political leadership role in the world, working together with other independent players such as Norway and Sweden, or emerging nations like Turkey and Brazil. I have often accused our Government of being too timid in standing up to big countries on peace and human rights issues. To make the point I have often resorted to symbolic protest. I have waved Tibetan and Papuan flags on the steps of Parliament, presented a nuke-free New Zealand badge to Hillary Clinton—she was rather startled—and presented a letter from anti-war groups to Tony Blair. I once wore a scarf made up of Chinese and Tibetan flags to a reception for the Chinese Premier. Now at State dinners I seem to be allocated the seat farthest away from the top table.

If we are to be a truly independent nation, I do not see how we can remain chained to the British monarchy. Even though my Head of State Referenda Bill failed to get a majority in the House last year, I did put the issue into the parliamentary arena, and there is now a cross-party Republican caucus in this House. Most MPs recognise that we cannot stay a monarchy for ever. Why not be bolder and bring about the change, even if it does upset a minority of constituents still attached to the royal family?

I have also enjoyed being an Auckland MP and being part of Auckland’s evolution into a considerably more tolerant bicultural and multicultural town. Auckland’s public transport system has also improved, but there would not have been the transport snarl-up on the first day of the 2011 Rugby World Cup if Governments had been listening more closely 10 years ago to the pleas I and other Greens were making for more investment in Auckland’s rail.

I would like now to pay a tribute to all those wonderful Green MPs I have had the privilege of working alongside during my 12 years in Parliament—and it is great to have Jeanette Fitzsimons with me here today, along with Nicola and Holly Donald, the partner and daughter of the much missed Rod Donald. Rod and Jeanette led us through the difficult times of consolidating the Green presence in Parliament, and in the public consciousness. It was not an easy ride. Initially we were dismissed as either utopian dreamers or dangerous extremists. Sometimes the labels seemed mutually contradictory, such as when I was dismissed as both a Stalinist and a weak-kneed peacenik in the same breath. I have never particularly minded the peacenik label.

It is much easier now, because public opinion has moved much closer to the Green way of looking at things, which is one reason why we are going up in the polls. We now have a much stronger Green Party, and I would like to pay a big tribute to all the Green members who work so hard to get out the Green message. The Green office staff have been fantastic over the years. There are too many to mention, but I particularly want to thank my dedicated executive assistant, Claire, my adviser, Kevin, and Lucy, Ivan, and Karen in the Auckland office. Some have said that it will not be the same now we originals have gone, but I have great faith that the expanded team that will emerge from the election, ably led by Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, will take Green politics to a higher level.

I am very happy today to have my brother, Don, and sisters, Maire and Alison, with us, and most of their families—they have all been so supportive of me over these years—and of course my wonderful partner, Michele, who has helped me right through this parliamentary journey and over all the rocky patches. She has also assisted with her exceptional political judgment, to keep me on the right path.

People will ask: “Will you miss Parliament?”. And I say yes. It has been my other family for these past 12 years. As if to reinforce this point, one of my young great-nieces calls me “Uncle Parliament”. Thanks to the MPs from all parties—I have enjoyed your company and friendship. Thanks to all the parliamentary staff: clerks, librarians, Hansard recorders, ushers, messengers, security, select committee workers—you name it—and particularly the cleaners, who do not get much more than the minimum wage when we MPs are paid so well. To all my friends in the press gallery, thanks for your professionalism and for giving me a fair go.

In my maiden speech I said that I saw my role “first and foremost, as a representative of all those active community groups who are pushing good causes from better public transport to humane treatment for refugees, from organic farming to nuclear disarmament.” One of the great things about this House is that it has a big front lawn so that community protests can be brought to the steps of Parliament. I have been regularly out on those steps speaking in support of the protesters on the grass—on every type of issue. Sometimes I did not know the protesters were coming until I spied them on Parliament grounds from our offices on the 15th floor of Bowen House. So I would rush down and quickly construct a speech on a particular issue, such as on one recent occasion addressing the plight of the persecuted Assyrian Christians in Iraq—I did not quite know they were coming.

So if you want to catch up with me after I have left Parliament, you might sometimes find me among the protesters on the grass, ready with a bit of helpful advice for Parliament, or you might find me across the road, in the National Library, researching a political history project. Thanks to all of you. I will miss you. Ka kite anō.


Sitting suspended from 6.09 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.