Ardern hypes but warns ‘be patient’ as Labour Party wants more

Jacinda Ardern is warning her supporters to be patient as the Labour Party approved a policy wish list at the conference in Dunedin in the weekend.

She has hyped up “let’s keep doing this” will more quietly warning that they can’t do everything immediately.

ODT:  $217 million for special needs aides

“Be patient.”

That was the New Zealand Labour Party’s message to members during its annual conference, held in Dunedin over the weekend, and it was a message Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirmed in her leader’s speech yesterday.

“We are also balancing financial security with the pressing social needs that the Government promised to deliver on,” Ms Ardern told a 1200-strong Town Hall audience yesterday.

“That is what we were elected to do.

“We can’t do everything at once, just like it doesn’t make sense to spend every cent you earn, but we are investing carefully in the areas that need it most. Things like health, housing, education.”

Afterwards Ms Ardern told reporters Labour members did not have raised expectations about what the Government could achieve.

“I would like to think we have always been pragmatic. You only get the chance to make change if you are in the position to govern, so we have always been a party which has both an activist base of people who go out and knock on doors, but with the purpose of giving us the chance to make change.

“There will always be a debate about what that change will look like.”

This may have been in part a response to the party wish list that came out of ther conference, and also the growing criticism from the left wing that change isn’t coming fast enough and isn’t revolutionary enough.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern’s message to the party faithful – ‘we can’t do it all’

Ardern’s biggest problem is managing expectations after Labour’s nine years in the political wilderness.

She works hype well, but needs to try to tone down expectations of what is realistically possible.

Her speech to the 1200-strong audience was one of the few events in the three-day long programme that was open to the media.

The rest of the conference took place behind closed doors including a session where local branches and committees put up their policy wish lists for a vote.

But Ardern’s speech tacitly acknowledged that some of the most trenchant criticism her Government faces includes from the left about policies like Kiwibuild, and her Government’s self-imposed spending limits under its Budget Responsibility Rules.

She went on the defensive over Kiwibuild helping thousands of young families into a home “not through a subsidy but the Government using our scale and buying power to do what the market hasn’t.”

The first KiwiBuild houses have been bought off the market that have already been built or planned.

“We can’t do everything at once, just like it doesn’t make sense to spend every cent you earn,” she told the conference.

But many of Labour’s grassroots are impatient for more radical change.

Some of the remits passed by the conference included a proposal to subsidise or make free disposable or reusable menstrual products; universally free dental care, and extending ACC to cover illness or disability.

Many of those remits will struggle to become government policy, even with the unanimous backing from the rank and file. A conference vote only kicks them up to Labour’s policy committee, and after that its platform committee – and after that they have to be vetted by the party’s funding group, which includes the likes of Finance Minister Grant Robertson. They will be wary of anything which doesn’t pass the political sniff test.

And any policies that makes it through all those hoops might not survive coalition negotiations after the election, like much of Labour’s manifesto this time round.

Ardern’s catch cry that she rallied the troops with at the election was “let’s do this”, and it was one she reissued at the weekend – but with that caveat that Labour can’t do it all at once.

Ardern finished her conference speech with:

And I would finish with a big giant PS,

Let’s keep doing this.

Let’s keep doing what? The hype, hoopla and self congratulation?

Because out the other side of her mouth Ardern is warning they can’t keep doing what everyone in the party wants.




Ardern’s speech at Labour conference

Jacinda Ardern has given her speech at the Labour Party conference. I haven’t been following it so will post some reactions

Scoop: Speech: Ardern – Labour Party Conference

New Zealand Government: New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

The Coalition Government will fund a new workforce of educational professionals who will work in schools to ensure children with diverse learning needs get the support they need to learn, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

In a game-changer for students, parents and teachers, approximately 600 Learning Support Coordinators will be employed as early as the beginning of 2020. This will be the first tranche of these positions.

They will work alongside teachers, parents and other professionals to give our students the individualised support they deserve.

“These coordinators will not only help unlock the potential of thousands of children with learning needs, they’ll free up teachers so all children get more quality classroom time to learn,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“A big concern I hear regularly from teachers is the amount of time they spend trying to get support for children with additional needs. The new Learning Support Coordinators are a win-win; kids with both high and moderate needs will get on-the-ground support, parents will have a specialised point of contact and teachers will have more time to teach.

“This $217 million investment over four years follows a major spending increase in Budget 2018, and brings the extra funding the Coalition Government has put into learning support to half a billion dollars. That is a huge investment in our first year into supporting both our kids and our teachers.

“One in five New Zealand children has a disability or other learning and behavioural needs and it’s been too hard, for too long, for them to get support at the right time. Learning support has been neglected for more than a decade.

“The Coalition Government has listened to the parents and students who’ve asked for more support, and teachers who have been calling for this new fully-funded role.

“Learning Support Coordinators will be key people at the heart of a new learning support model, developed by Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin, through her draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan,” said Jacinda Ardern.

The announcement delivers on a number of the 26 recommendations from the Labour, New Zealand First and Green parties’ minority report to the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Inquiry in the last Parliament. It is also consistent with the Labour and Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement.


Robertson signals 2019 ‘Wellbeing Budget’

In his speech to the Labour Party conference this weekend Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has pre-labelled his next year budget as a ‘Wellbeing Budget’.

Budget 2018 was called Foundations for the Future, and I am proud of what we are building. But, there is more to do. More to do to build an economy that is fit for purpose for the middle part of the 21st century; an economy that is focused on future generations: more productive, more sustainable and more inclusive.

To that end, in Budget 2019 we are making a significant change that will embody our values. Budget 2019 will be New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Budget.

It will be the first budget with that label, but it won’t be the first budget by a long shot that has tried to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Last year, and the year before that (and the year before that), I have spoken about the limitation of tracking our success on a narrow measure such as GDP growth. Well, now we are doing something about it. We are moving beyond GDP to not just look at our financial health, but also the wellbeing of our people, the health of our environment and the strength of our communities.

As the Minister of Finance I will report on all of those measures at Budget time, including on how we are tracking at reducing child poverty.

It is essential that this is based on a robust and credible framework. At the core of our approach will be the Living Standards Framework developed by the Treasury, based on the work of the OECD. It is grounded in core economic concepts to assess the stock of our wellbeing. So, you will hear about financial capital, human capital, natural capital and social capital.

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard. This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation. It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing. It is a work in progress. We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

The Living Standards Framework is designed to outlive any particular Government. It will be a critical input to our Wellbeing Budget, but it will not be the only one. We are using the Child Wellbeing Strategy, evidence from here and overseas about intergenerational success and the advice of experts such as government science advisors.

And that is the critical difference in our Wellbeing Budget. Not only are we going to measure our success differently, we are putting our Budget together on a wellbeing basis as well.

We have identified five core priorities that will define our first Wellbeing Budget. I will announce the detail of these during the Budget Policy Statement next month, but they cover the areas where we think the outcomes will make a substantive difference to both our current and future wellbeing.

These priorities will include sustainably growing and modernising our economy, lifting children’s wellbeing, and yes, we will finally be giving mental health the priority and focus that it deserves.

As we speak, my Ministerial colleagues are working together to produce initiatives that will be squarely focused on long-term intergenerational outcomes. This means we are breaking down the silos of government to form a long-term view.

And we have already started.

He gives some examples.

When we first came into Government we faced a decision about what to do with Waikeria Prison. We were told that we should build a 2,500 bed American mega-prison because it had the cheapest per-prisoner cost. But maybe, just maybe, we could do better if built a smaller prison, with a mental health unit attached to address the underlying causes. And if we focused on more drug and alcohol rehabilitation and more on prisoner housing to support re-integration. That is what we have done and that is a wellbeing approach.

Better mental health support and drug and alcohol rehabilitation have been talked about for a long time, and attempts had been made to address these issues more effectively, but of course better can be done if adequate resources are made available. It will cost more initially, but as Bill English used to promote, it is a social investment that will pay dividends in the longer term.

And just this week the Prime Minister, Phil Twyford and Kelvin Davis announced a once-in-a-generation community renewal in Porirua. Now, this could have been a project just to build more houses, but we see it as a major integrated urban development plan – including education, recreation, social services, and yes, lots of houses. And delivered in partnership with iwi and local council. That is a wellbeing approach.

Al of those things are done now, but perhaps it is new to take an integrated approach to a whole community renewal at the same time.

And we are serious about embedding this approach. Chris Hipkins and I are both working on the most fundamental change to the State Sector and Public Finance legislation in thirty years. This will ensure that collaboration and wellbeing is embedded in how our government agencies work.

Again i don’t think this general approach is new, but if more emphasis is put on improving the wellbeing of people then it could make a real difference – as long as they can avoid getting bogged down with bureaucracy and they can break cycles of dependency.

So delegates, 2019 will be the Wellbeing Budget, and the first steps in changing our yardstick of success.

With finances looking healthy it is a good opportunity to invest (spend more) to achieve longer term gains in wellbeing and in costs of providing state care and assistance.

We will get a better idea of what Robertson is aiming at next May when his ‘wellbeing budget’ is announced.

However if he gets the targets and balances right it may be years if not a decade before the results will be apparent. Wise investments take time.

Full transcript of Robertson’s speech:

Labour 2018 conference after 1 year in Government

Labour is having their annual conference in Dunedin this weekend. In part they will be celebrating their first year in Government under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern. She will give a big speech tomorrow.

From their website:  Year That Was: 365 days in Government!

One whole year. And what a year it’s been.

We’ve certainly achieved a whole lot.

Right off the starting block, we were keen to get stuck in and make some real positive change for New Zealand.

They list a lot of their successes (and not surprisingly no failures). Ardern has something to say:

More from her tomorrow with her Leader’s Speech – New Zealand Labour Party Annual Conference 2018

Join Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern for her first ever Annual Conference speech as the Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. Celebrate this special occasion with us at the Dunedin Town Hall on Sunday 4 November at 1.30pm.

If I could I would have had a look (I’ve been to ACT and NZ First conferences in Dunedin in the past) but I have other commitments tomorrow.

Maori seats should be ‘entrenched’ or scrapped?

Last week a bill seeking to ‘entrench’ the Māori seats in Parliament was drawn from the members’ ballot last week. Are the Māori seats an important part of our democracy, or outdated and unnecessary under MMP?

RNZ: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats.

Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

The protection of Māori electoral seats was vital, Mr Tirikatene said.

“I think they’re unique to Aotearoa, it symbolises our Treaty of Waitangi partnership and they’ve been a long standing, important part of our parliamentary democracy.”

‘Entrenchment’ is a curious term to use here. If the bill passes it would make it a lot harder to get a big enough vote in Parliament to scrap the Māori seats so it may effectively entrench them, but it doesn’t guarantee they would always be retained.

Entrenchment (Oxford):

1 [with object] Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.

1.1 Establish (someone) in a position of great strength or security.

‘by 1947 de Gaulle’s political opponents were firmly entrenched in power’

1.2 Apply extra legal safeguards to (a right guaranteed by legislation)‘steady progress was made in entrenching the individual rights of noblemen’

2 [with object] Establish (a military force) in trenches or other fortified positions.

Origin: Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘place within a trench’): from en-, in- ‘into’ + trench.

Labour currently have about 37% of the vote in Parliament, and 100% of the Māori seats, they would easily stop them from being scrapped if a 75% vote was required. Greens also support retaining the Māori seats, and while National have previously had a policy to scrap them they have softened on this.

Winston Peters and therefore NZ First have strongly supported scrapping the seats.

So does Barry Soper: Seven Maori seats are obsolete

The seven Maori seats in Parliament should be scrapped. The need for them has long passed.

Originally they were only meant to be there for five years to give Maori the right to vote in the general election 150 years ago this year. That was extended by another five years but in 1876 it was extended indefinitely.

The Royal Commission, which proposed our MMP electorate system, said if it was adopted the Maori seats should go. It rightly argued that under MMP all parties would have to pay attention to Maori voters and their concerns and they felt their continued existence would marginalise those concerns.

Around that time the seats came the closest they’ve ever come to abolition with an Electoral Reform Bill, but it failed after strong opposition from Maori.

The seats have been something of a political football ever since. The First MMP election in 1996 saw them all going to New Zealand First, which lost the lot of them just three years later. At the last election Winston Peters promised a binding referendum to consider their abolition and on reducing the number of MPs to 100. His coalition deal with Labour’s put paid to that.

Before the 2008 election John Key promised to get rid of the seats but in his first coalition deal embraced the Maori Party which served as National’s insurance policy right up until the last election.

And today there are the most Maori MPs ever in Parliament, 29 with our indigenous culture’s heritage, or 24 percent of Parliament and most coming from the general electorate roll.

All of the political leaders with the exception of Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw lay claim to Maori heritage. So surely Maori are, or should be, better catered for then ever before.

The seats have become redundant, other than a political crutch for Labour, they serve no purpose and rather than entrenching them, Parliament should be doing away with them.

Should the seats be protected for Māori, or are they give an unfair electoral advantage to Labour?

Is this a real problem, or a self interested jack-up?

Would Tirikatene be an MP if there were no Māori seats? Possibly now via Labour’s list, but probably now not if he hadn’t already been an MP.

The bill would require the support of NZ First or National to pass, so it seems far from guaranteed.

What about public support? 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll August 2017:

  • Should be kept 55%
  • Should be abolished 13%
  • Should be abolished some time in the future 23%

Is the Tirikatene bill trying to fix something that isn’t broken?



Labour sexual assault review – terms of reference

Labour has released the terms of reference for the review into the sexual assault issues at the Young Labour summer camp. It will take 2-3 months, and all Labour Party members will be contacted.

Maria Berryman Review: Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the Berryman review have been finalised.

  1. Ms. Berryman will inquire and report on:
    1. all Labour Party policies and procedures in relation to Young Labour events, that existed as of February 2018, having regard to all relevant legislation;
    2. whether such policies and procedures were applied correctly in respect of the February 2018 Young Labour summer camp;
    3. whether the policies and procedures, when correctly applied, adequately support the Labour Party’s objective of providing a safe environment for members and participants;
    4. all Labour Party policies and procedures in relation to the planning and management of events and the handling of complaints, having regard to all relevant legislation;
    5. whether such policies and procedures were applied correctly in respect of the February 2018 allegations;
    6. whether the policies and procedures, when correctly applied, reflect best practice.
  2. The Reviewer will not investigate or make findings about the specific allegations of sexual assault, except to the extent of how the policies and processes were applied in relation to the events prior to, and after, the alleged assaults.
  3. The Reviewer will make any recommendations for change that she thinks appropriate.
  4. In addition, because the possibility of at least one other incident of a similar nature has been raised in the media, the Reviewer will also be available to, and will establish processes to:
    1. receive any other concerns of issues that any person may wish to raise in relation to previous events (either relating to Young Labour or the Labour Party more generally); and
    2. take such steps as she considers appropriate in relation to those other issues, having regard to the wishes of those who raise them with her. Those steps may include recommendations to the Labour Party Council.

“Ms Berryman is commencing immediately with the initial focus of her investigation on the Young Labour camp in February. The review is expected to take between two and three months,” said Nigel Haworth, Labour Party President.

“A statement will be issued when the review has been completed, outlining any recommendations as well as the steps the Labour Party will be taking to implement them.

“All members of the Party will be contacted in relation to the review.

“Historical cases may be brought to Ms Berryman’s attention by sending details of the case to:

“This address will be confidential to Ms Berryman and will be available on our website at

“The Labour Party will fully cooperate with Ms Berryman’s requirements in the completion of her review.

“Labour will not be commenting further while this investigation is underway,” said Haworth.

“Attempts by some fringe Labour supporters to minimise these issues”

It is normal for political activists to over play attacks on opponents, and to make excuses and minimise issues that put their favoured parties and politicians in a bad light. This has been apparent over the sexual abuse claims at Young Labour’s summer camp.

This can go to the extreme of trying to shift blame to opponents, sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Like this from ‘Anne’ at The Standard:

I am becoming convinced that this Youth Camp incident is being used by Labour’s opponents to destroy General Secretary, Andrew Kirton. The MO is remarkably similar to that used on David Cunliffe… grab a piece of info. (eg. a letter he had received 12 yearspreviously) and create a false meme around it. Make sure your MSM acolytes keep it on the boil for as long as possible. They all know the truth will out eventually, but that doesn’t matter because by then the damage has already been done.

And Draco T Bastard:

I’m pretty sure the only reason it’s in the news is for the political point scoring done by the RWNJs.

No other case of sexual abuse gets this sort of attention from the MSM.

Anne again:

Warning! Right wing concern troll calling him/herself John Selway has been sent to TS. Wonder who his/her masters are… and what his/her previous mission was?

Now there’s a real conspiracy theory for the deniers to dig their fangs into.

Ironic that she mentioned conspiracy theory.

Tim Murphy at Newsroom (where the story broke) writes How bad is bad enough?

By common consent the Labour Party has handled the sexual assaults against four young supporters at a political summer camp badly. Labour’s top two names certainly think so. Among their statements on Wednesday were

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

“This sexual abuse took place.”

“The event was not undertaken in a safe and responsible way.”

“Things went very, very wrong.”


Labour Party President Nigel Haworth:

“We have failed in our duty of care since the event.”

Their acceptance of failure and distress on behalf of the victims was unmissable. No gilding of the lily at the top level.

But among their supporters there were those determined not to take their leaders’ lead and accept that Labour did not do right by these victims.

On social media some have claimed the disclosure of these sexual assaults was somehow a political attack on Labour; that National did not get intense media scrutiny over John Key’s ponytail pulling or Todd Barclay and Bill English’s behaviour over the taping of a staff member; that Newsroom, in breaking this news showed no concern for the four victims.

They have been shooting the messenger. They have been minimising.

Shooting the messenger is common on political forums, but more problematic is the minimising of what Ardern and Haworth have admitted are serious problems that include sexual assault.

They are wrong, wrong and wrong. Key was confronted with the starkest and most intense coverage of his bizarre and indefensible fetish, Barclay was forced to resign after weeks of media scrutiny.

Whataboutism has been rife – including here at YourNZ. That’s a common diversionary tactic.

But with the clear acceptance at the top that so much went wrong – for the victims, and *after* the camp – the ongoing confidence in Kirton and the attempts by some fringe Labour supporters to minimise these issues are more than a little troubling.

In effect they are minimising what could amount to multiple serious assaults. That is troubling – and also troubling is that nonsense claims on this are allowed to stand unsubstantiated at The Standard.

There are also many troubling comments on this issue at Kiwiblog, but that’s another story.

Also another story, from NZH – Witness: People were vomiting in the toilets and bushes from too much boozing at Young Labour summer camp

An eyewitness at the Young Labour party during the Waihi summer camp says it was a “recipe for disaster”, describing it as an unsupervised party where people were throwing up in toilets and in the bushes from excessive boozing.

And there was a giant walk-in fridge where anyone, including people as young as 15, could just walk in and grab any booze they wanted.

The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the public deserved to know the true nature of the event, during which a 20-year-old is alleged to have sexually assaulted four people aged between 16 and 18.

“On the Saturday night, even before dinner, people were playing goon bag roulette with the clothes line, hanging a bag of cask wine and sitting underneath it and spinning the clothes line,” the man said.

The use and abuse of alcohol is one of the problems accepted by Ardern and will be included in their inquiry into what went wrong.

‘Expert’ advice on informing victims’ parents questioned

Labour party officials defended their decision not to inform parents of the victims of the alleged sexual assaults at the Young Labour summer camp.

Stuff: Labour Party confirms sexual misconduct at camp – parents and police not told

Labour’s general secretary has defended not telling the police or parents about complaints teenagers were sexually assaulted at a summer camp last month.

Andrew Kirton, the Labour Party’s general secretary, said he stood by the way the party had handled the situation, which he said was done with a “victim-led” focus on the back of advice from a Wellington sexual violence charity.

Parents of the victims hadn’t been told about the incident because “we wanted to deal with the young people in the first instance,” Kirton said.

“We didn’t want to assume the young people involved had told their parents. They’re 16 so that had an impact on that decision and that was the advice we got.”

But the advice Kirton says he received is universal ‘best practice’.

I have received a copy of a professsional counselor’s advice on confidentially not being absolute when dealing with young people suffering trauma.

I have recently had a chance to catch up with the news regarding the sexual assault allegations perpetrated against 4 young people at the NZ Labour Party Youth Camp at Waihi, and I find myself feeling simply appalled by the role of the Counsellors in this saga.

In my professional practice opinion, gleaned from over 17,000 hours of practice, the decision by the so-called “experts” to not tell parents about what had happened to their children at the camp flies in the face of common sense and ethical decency.

This decision is also at odds with the evidence of what constitutes best practice.

There are a number of logical inconsistencies within the narrative of those who were charged with providing a safe environment for these young people – so many in fact as to risk eroding parental And caregiver confidence in the ability of the “experts” to actually make reasonable and rational decisions regarding people in crisis under their care.

This story is one of many to have emerged over time, under the mis-represented umbrella of “client confidentiality”.

Confidentiality (in any profession) is not absolute.

For Counsellors in this story to claim that confidentiality is absolute, is to incur an inconsistency with their own ethical Codes of Practice.

I know this, because I have had cause to review the Codes of Ethics for the six main Professional Associations that operate within the social service delivery space, a review that also included the Privacy Act 1993.

Every single one of the aforementioned documents accepts breach of confidentiality without client consent in four instances of disclosure: risk to self, risk to others, risk from others, and disclosure of illegal intent or action.

These breaches have particular significance for clients under the age of 17, which all of the alleged camp victims were.

Part of the informed consent process for clients in Counselling is for the Counsellor to advise clients at the beginning of the first session that some exceptions to confidentiality exist, prior to any disclosure being made.

Failure of the Counsellor to conduct an adequate informed consent process can result in the Counsellor adopting a level of responsibility for the client and families welfare that they have no right to claim in the absence of parental involvement and awareness (as has happened in this case).

Offering an illegitimate blanket of confidentiality also risks further alienating a young client from the enduring available support structures available within the family unit.

There is also a logical inconsistency in the reasons given by the experts not to tell the parents about what occurred in the camp, and it goes like this.

The experts in this saga claim that the alleged victims of the sexual assault were traumatised by the actions against them, yet it is these same traumatised minds that the experts choose to trust in terms of the victims (who are most likely fearful, confused, and in shock themselves) being able to make a reasonable decision about who to tell or not tell about what happened, because of the risk of re-traumatisation?!

This isn’t (as the experts claim) best practice – it’s rather professional abdication of a legitimate responsibility for the Counsellor to skillfully navigate the child towards their family so that the family can manage the issue at hand, with assistance from the Counsellor, if required.

The oft-repeated acclaimed rights of children and young people thus become misguided ideological nonsense when contrasted against the sanctity of the parent-child relationship which informs the right of parents to decide what is best for their children.

There is now a plethora of longitudinal population research studies that reveal that the higher order brain centres (e.g. the pre-frontal cortex, responsible for integrating sensory information and reasoning) don’t fully develop until the early-mid twenties.

To therefore assume (as the experts in this case have) that young people in crisis are capable of making a rational decision about what is best for them in the absence of parental or caregiver guidance is a classic example of present day ideology attempting to supersede historical and empirically revealed common sense.

Perhaps the lesson for the Counselling profession is this: when working with clients, and particularly younger clients, those who claim to be “helping” need to be very cautious of claiming a responsibility for a young person’s welfare or situation that is not theirs to claim.

A life may well eventually depend on the application of such professional discernment.

More on Labour advisers, lobbyists and conflicts of interest

A follow-up to Lobbyists and Labour advisers in Government – more coverage plus some interesting tweets.

The Spinoff: Conflict of interest concerns over lobbyist turned chief of Jacinda Ardern’s staff

The government lobbyist who served for several months as chief of staff to the prime minister as the new government took office says he didn’t do any work for the lobbying firm of which he is part-owner while working at the Beehive. Nor, he says, was he paid by the business.

In response to questions on potential conflicts of interest, GJ Thompson, who advised the prime minister for five months ending last Friday, told The Spinoff he “declared the potential conflict at the very outset” and that it was for the Department of Internal Affairs to manage any conflict.

Thompson did not directly respond, however, to questions put to him on why his name and personal telephone number remained on the front page of the lobbying firm’s website while he was in service at the apex of the new government, or what steps were taken to address any conflicts of interest.

hen Labour’s previous chief of staff, Neale Jones, left to become a lobbyist late last year, questions arose about conflicts of interest and the potential for disclosure of inside information.

But concerns over Jones’ move are dwarfed by those surrounding his replacement, GJ Thompson. Last Friday, Thompson concluded a five-month stint as Labour’s chief of staff. Before taking on the leading Labour position he was a partner at Thompson Lewis, the lobbying firm he founded in 2016. Having left the role, he has returned to Auckland and his firm to continue as a lobbyist.

His time advising Ardern leads in his promotional bio on the front page of the firm’s website, which boasts: “He spent five months as chief of staff to prime minister Jacinda Ardern, assisting the new government transition into the Beehive.” The firm’s blurb advertises its “strong political networks” and its partners’ “significant time in senior roles in Government and Opposition”.

The Spinoff got a limited response from the PM’s office and “no specific comment” apart from dates of employment from Ministerial Services.

The Spinoff asked Thompson about these circumstances and how any conflicts of interest were managed, including whether the disclosure was about his role at the firm generally, or relating to particular clients.

Thompson responded: “Your questions are best directed to DIA [the Department of Internal Affairs] given they were the employer. DIA manages any potential conflict of interest. I declared the potential conflict at the very outset of my short-term appointment.”

“While I was temporarily working as chief of staff, I took a leave of absence from Thompson Lewis and did not work for the business at all”, he said.

“Nor was I paid by the business. I stepped out of the business completely. My time in the Beehive was always on a temporary basis so we took careful steps to manage it.”

Thompson did not respond directly to questions from The Spinoff whether he had professional contact with his firm while he was chief of staff.

It remains unclear from the answers provided by Thompson, the prime minister’s office, and the Department of Internal Affairs whether Thompson disclosed his clients’ identities or simply that he was involved in Thompson Lewis, though that question was put directly to all three.

Without knowing who Thompson’s clients are, it would have been challenging for the department and the prime minister’s office to decide what steps should be taken to mitigate potential conflicts of interest, such as what information Thompson should have had access to, and whether he should have resigned his directorship of the firm.

Risks of corruption aside, political scientist Bryce Edwards, speaking to RNZ about his coverage of Thompson’s appointment, explained why he was concerned about changes in the lobbying industry: “There is increasing suspicion about what is basically a political class.”

“A lot of people — in especially the Wellington circles — that work in government departments, work in ministers’ offices, or are politicians, then work in the media, they work in PR, they work in lobbying. It’s all a bit too close, I think. It’s a very cohesive political class.”

Thompson told The Spinoff he has spent over 20 years as a journalist, working in parliament and for some of New Zealand’s largest companies. “During this time, I’ve developed long-standing contacts in media, politics and business.”

A fair question to ask. It does not appear to have been asked or answered at The Standard.

Some interesting responses to Manhire’s tweet:

“A relatively inexperienced outfit” does need “needs all the help they can get”, but not by compromising the integrity of political advice untainted by the interests of lobbyists paid to influence the Government.

Some responses from what I think are left leaning people:

Valedictory statement – Annette King

Annette King has been a very accomplished and widely respected MP and Minister. She has probably done more than anyone to help Labour survive the last nine years. If she had chosen to stand as leader she will probably have done better than any of Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe or Little.

She has mentored Jacinda Ardern and helped ready her for her big step up last week.

King has just given her valedictory statement in Parliament.

Hon ANNETTE KING (Labour—Rongotai): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I could not start before the grandson arrived.

Where to begin? It has been 33 years since I was first elected, 11 elections, nine leaders, 15 portfolios, 985 speeches in this House, so many debates, so many challenges, so many stories, and so much fun. I have often asked myself how Skinny Robinson from the small South Island town of Murchison ended up in a place like this. So like any good yarn you have got to start from the beginning. I joined the Labour Party in 1972 following the victory of Norman Kirk and the third Labour Government—a Government that was full of ideas, passion, and hope. I joined in Hamilton. I went to my first branch meeting, and I was immediately made the secretary. That is what happens in the Labour Party.

Throughout the 1970s I did most of my party work in Hamilton. I was instrumental in setting up a new branch in Hamilton East called the Trendy Leftie Club. It was called that because the Prime Minister of the day, Rob Muldoon, called everybody who was in the Labour Party a “Trendy Leftie”. For our inaugural meeting we invited the up-and-coming leftie of the day—Richard Prebble. [Interruption] It is possible to get things wrong in politics.

It was Richard Prebble, the then Minister of Railways, who, when I excitedly told him that the Waikanae Railway Station had just been painted, said: “Ah! That means we’re gonna close it.”, and he did. But my real political activism started in March 1974 when I joined around a thousand school dental nurses, in white starched uniforms, red cardigans, veils, and seemed stockings, and marched up Lambton Quay to Parliament in support of a pay claim. I was petrified. But I have never forgotten a carload of young blokes who called out as we passed them: “Hey, hey, you Waikato sheilas, best looking in the bunch.” I can tell you it put a real spring in our step that day. We had waited years for a pay rise. With the sport of Dan Long and the PSA we walked away that day with a 24.4 percent pay increase from Norm Kirk. Yes, it was great—an increase of $8,000 in today’s money. It was unprecedented at that time, and I can tell you that the silver fern railcar rocked and rolled its way back to Hamilton that night with the help of a few bottles of golden sherry.

I learnt from that day the value of leadership and courage—leadership from people like Maggie Morgan, Pam Horncy, and Sheila Brown. Pam and Maggie are those two who have dressed in that uniform up there tonight. It showed me the value of standing up and fighting for what you believe in and the value of belonging to a union. Now, 43 years on, I am ashamed we still do not have pay equity in New Zealand. Women have waited long enough. No more excuses, no more half-baked measures, no more litigation. It is time for us to once again lead on women’s issues. Our country used to be a leader. There is so much more that we need to do.

In 1981 I shifted to Wellington. I packed up my old Chevette, the TV, the dog, and my young daughter Amanda and I headed to new challenges. I joined the Mount Victoria branch of the Labour Party, and I was immediately made the Secretary. That is what happens in the Labour Party. It was there that I met the formidable Kath Kelly and her husband Pat. I also met Helen Kelly. She became my babysitter. One of the sadnesses for me is that I leave this place and Helen Kelly is not sitting here with us.

I worked on Fran Wilde’s campaign, and it was with her encouragement, along with Helen Clark, that I put my name in for the 1984 election. The Party had decided that we needed more women in Parliament, because we were sick of being tea ladies, Mr Joyce. We wanted to make policy, and we wanted to make decisions. Before the 1984 election, women made up 8 percent of Parliament—8 percent. It increased to 15 percent—the biggest increase ever. And 33 years on it is now 31 percent. That is not good enough. All political parties need to commit to making this place truly a House of Representatives.

I supported MMP, because I saw it as a way to achieve diversity and fairness in our voting system. It has changed the make-up of the House, but we have still got a long way to go. President Jim Anderton selected me for the seat of Horowhenua, but I never expected to win. I called myself the accidental MP. We had never held that seat before, and I was swept in on the popularity of David Lange with a majority of 447. We put together a fantastic campaign with 1 month to do it in—after the calling of the Schnapps election—for the 14 July, Bastille Day, and the result was a political revolution. The campaign was short; it was sharp, and it was furious. It was led by my long-time friend and campaign manager for all but one of my 11 campaigns, Lloyd Falck and his wife Marea. Lloyd, who is larger than life, was my Chief of Staff for nine years, and Marea my electorate secretary. I owe them so much.

It was during that campaign that I met the 8-year-old Darren Hughes. He was Lloyd’s neighbour, and, yes, he was already a political junkie, delivering my pamphlets. He will deny this, but both he and his brother Bryce curtseyed when they first met David Lange. [Interruption] Darren is one of the most talented people I have ever met, and this House is the poorer for him not being here.

They used to say the softest thing about Anne Hercus was her teeth, but she was the person who gave me my first break in Parliament after the 1984 election. She put me on her working party to establish the first ever Ministry of Women’s Affairs and she made me chair of the Social Welfare Committee. I was a real novice, up against the wily old fox Venn Young, who was the former Minister, and he gave me a real lesson in the art of politics. I quickly learnt you had to hold your nerve if you were going to survive in this place.

I was also put on the Finance and Expenditure Committee. I was the only woman, and I was scared stiff, because sitting opposite me was a line-up of heavy hitting former Minister’s led by Rob Muldoon. I did not open my mouth for 6 weeks. After a while I got enough courage to ask a question, and I cannot remember what it was, but I can still see Muldoon fixing me with that stare and saying: “Who’s she?” I quickly learnt you need a sense of humour if you are going to survive in this place. I did have an odd relationship with Muldoon. He was the person who said I had put the horror into Horowhenua. But just before the 1990 election I passed him in the old billiard room, and he grunted, and he said: “I hope you win.” He often got things wrong.

For the first 3 years I was seated next to Trevor Mallard. We have fought and scrapped with each other for over 33 years, but he is one of my oldest mates, and a passionate politician. I will always remember the day when we had shifted seats to sit behind the front bench for Trevor to speak. He was speaking with volume on full when his front teeth, which were attached to a plate in those days, flew out of his mouth and landed on Richard Prebble’s shoulder. He leant forward, he grabbed them, he put them back in his mouth, and he carried on speaking without taking a breath or hesitation.

It was a tradition back them for two new members to propose the Address and Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I was chosen to do the Address, and Jim Sutton, my old mate, was chosen to do the Reply. It was not till afterwards that Mike Moore told us there was another tradition: those who were chosen usually lost their seats—and we did, in 1990. But, as they say, we came back. We came back as the retreads of 1993!

The years between 1984 and 1990 were both distressing and exhilarating. We became a deeply divided caucus and party by the end of 1990. I am not going to dwell too long on those years, but the fourth Labour Government made some of the most significant changes seen in New Zealand—economic, social, and constitutional. Rapid and radical economic changes included removing agricultural subsidies, removing controls on foreign exchange, introducing GST, removing import tariffs, corporatising many of our State assets, and much more. It took my dear old dad years to forgive the changes we made to the Post Office, a place he had worked for 40 years, and it was not until Kiwibank was opened that he felt his money was safe again. There were changes that were needed, but not enough thought was given to the consequences on families and communities, and some of those consequences are still with us today.

But there are highlights I do want to remember. Homosexual law reform, 1986—I believe one of the most courageous politicians in this House was Fran Wilde. She withstood the vilest of campaigns against her and her family, and I was proud to stand with those who voted in support of reform. I was told that I was going to lose my rural seat in the 1987 election if I voted for reform; I increased my majority. I learnt that you can only ever vote with your conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscience in your electorate. The old adage “To thine own self be true” comes to mind. And there are many more reforms that are needed in this area, particularly for transgender people, who continue to be discriminated against.

You know, we too often forget some of the reforms of the fourth Labour Government, over-shadowed by those economic changes. They were reforms such as the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act—thank you, Dr Cullen; fully abolishing the death penalty; this one is amazing—making rape in marriage a criminal offence; the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act; Homestart to help people buy their first home—what a novel idea; Treaty claims dating back to 1840; and, of course, nuclear-free New Zealand. Today the nuclear-free policy is owned by all New Zealanders, something most people are proud of. I believe that our nuclear-free stance, the failure of Britain and the US to condemn the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour, and our refusal to send troops to Iraq without a UN mandate were some of the actions that have led to New Zealand having a more independent foreign policy today.

A little-known story, however, is the part I played in restoring diplomatic relations with France after the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. After the 1987 election Peter Dunne and I were made parliamentary under-secretaries. Cabinet decided that we needed to get our relationship with France back on a better footing. It decided to send the lowliest ranked member of the executive—me—to reopen dialogue. I was dispatched to Paris to meet their Minister of Foreign Affairs. She spoke in French, I spoke in English, and I have not a clue what we talked about. But the message was clear: New Zealand was giving France a silent one-finger salute—I will not do it—while at the same time showing we had forgiven, but not forgotten.

In 1989 I was elected to Lange’s Cabinet. That lasted 7 days before David Lange resigned. I do not think I was the reason. I became a Minister in Geoffrey Palmer’s Cabinet, and later Mike Moore’s. I had responsibility for immigration, youth affairs, employment, and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister with responsibility for caucus relations. Dark clouds were already gathering over the caucus, and as a peacemaker I turned out to be an absolute failure.

As Minister of Employment I had to front up to the media every month to announce the increase in unemployment figures, and they were rising at an alarming rate. It was a political nightmare. You Ministers have it easy these days! But from my one year in that role came one of the highlights of my political career: the setting up of the community employment development unit, the brainchild of Garry Moore and a number of other fantastic community development workers, including the late Parekura Horomia. It was an agency that was outside the Department of Labour, and I have to say it caused the then Secretary of Labour a lot of angst. But many of the economic and job opportunities that started under that policy endure today—think Whale Watch Kaikōura.

In 1990 I lost the Horowhenua seat by 624 votes. There is nothing more devastating to a politician’s ego than to be defeated at an election—rejected by your constituents. But on reflection, it did me good. With the help of Steve Maharey, who had just been elected to Parliament, I got a job as the CEO of the Palmerston North Enterprise Board, a business and economic development agency. I learnt the value of small business as a generator of jobs in New Zealand, and I met two people very influential in the next steps of my political career who are now lifelong friends: John Harvey, who became my press secretary, and his wife Dr Judy McGregor, someone who has fought for equal opportunities all her adult life. They took over the publicity for my re-election in Miramar in 1993. Their bumper stickers remain the best I ever had: “Miramar Needs A King”. The other one was “A King for Miramar”, and they worked, because I won the seat back for Labour at that election.

John and I had many adventures in my 9 years as a Minister in Helen Clark’s Cabinet, like the time John convinced me, when I was Minister of Racing, to ride a horse out the front of Parliament dressed as a jockey—by now I was hardly Skinny Robinson. Several of us, including Helen Clark, Darren Hughes, Rick Barker, Damien O’Connor, and Paul Swain, owned a race horse during the 3 years I was Minister; it was called Bowen Arrow. It was well-named because it could only run straight and it was scared of corners. The damn thing never won a race until we got rid of it.

The 5th Labour Government—1999 to 2008—brought the next set of progressive reforms in New Zealand, many of which endure today. I must credit Helen Clark for the many opportunities and challenges she gave me over the 9 years I was in her Government and Cabinet: Health for 6 years, Transport, Police, State Services, Justice, and Food Safety. I must thank Michael Cullen for giving me funding in every one of those portfolios. In fact, my colleagues used to say “follow the money when I got a new portfolio. Not only was Michael an outstanding Minister of Finance, he has a keen sense for the ridiculous. He often used to send me little notes in the House. I have kept them all, and most of them are not for publication, but I will always remember the one he sent me on the day I was authorising the irradiation of peanuts. It read: “nuts to be irradiated, Labour Women’s Council happy”.

I held the Food Safety portfolio for 9 years and the work undertaken by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), Andrew McKenzie, and his staff was world leading. I regret that the Government dismantled the agency at a time when the rest of the world was responding to consumer demand for food safety, transparency, and independence from food producers. I hope there will be a re-think by the new Government.

The Health portfolio remains my passion and my greatest challenge. People often say that health is a hospital pass; actually, it was a privilege. The people who work in health are the most committed of any I have ever met. We have had some outstanding leaders in medicine, in nursing, in midwifery, and in many of the allied health services. I was fortunate to have an outstanding Director-General, Dr Karen Poutasi, and a strong Ministry of Health to advise me. After we came into Government we set out to tackle the inequities in health that had emerged after the health experiment of the 1990s. We were becoming a “care-less” society. With the help of my associate Ministers Ruth Dyson, Steve Chadwick, and Tariana Turia, we set in motion many reforms to re-establish a public health system focusing on preventing disease.

We developed long-term strategies such as the Primary Health Care Strategy, which endures today—well, at least in name. It set out the direction to make primary healthcare services more accessible and effective, particularly for those who historically had missed out on such services. It focused on both financial and non-financial barriers, and it needs to happen again.

There are many challenges in health, and I urge the incoming Government to address as soon as possible the growing crisis in mental health. Mental health has always been the Cinderella of health. What we are seeing now is a repeat of the 1990s, which led to the Mason inquiry and the need to double funding, train, and increase the mental health workforce.

One regret I do have is we still do not have affordable dental care for adult New Zealanders. Dr Clark, I expect you to deliver that.

I was fortunate to attend the annual World Health Assembly for 6 years, and a lasting achievement was New Zealand being one of the leaders for the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control—a set of policies that have helped to save millions of lives around the world. I married Ray in 2000, and I took him with me on my first assembly in Geneva. Rodney Hide, the perk-buster turned perk-taker, labelled it a “golden honeymoon in the Mediterranean”. Ray’s response was that if Rodney thought that listening to dozens of speeches on the evil of smoking was erotic, he had a very strange life indeed.

It is often said that bricks and mortar are not important, but I can tell you that they are when it comes to hospitals and health centres. We set out to rebuild hospitals from Kaitāia to Invercargill, many of them under threat of closure. Murchison was to be closed, and I got a phone call from Dad. He said: “You can’t close Murchison. I was born there, you were born there, and so was your sister.” It was rebuilt under my gentle guidance, and I got to open it as Minister of Police.

I do have to admit to one major failure in the health portfolio—and I am sure Hekia Parata will relate to this. Helen Clark told me that as Minister of Health, I had to talk to Parekura Horomia and convince him to lose weight. I went to Pare’s office and I said: “The Prime Minister said you need to lose weight. You’ve got to go on a diet.” His response was unprintable. I said: “You’ve got to join Weight Watchers, Pare.” There was another outburst of bad language, and then he said: “OK, OK. I’ll join, but only if I can do it by correspondence.” The impossible we did immediately, but I have to say miracles took a little longer.

The Police portfolio brought some particular challenges: the Bazley report into historical police conduct; the recruitment and training of 1,200 extra police, as per our agreement with New Zealand First; an increase in pay for police officers—and Greg O’Connor was a skilled and relentless union negotiator; he will go well in this place—and the passage of the new Policing Act. We have an outstanding police service in New Zealand, and many of the changes in attitude and practice were led by Howard Broad, Rob Pope, and Lyn Provost, three commissioners who brought vision and ideas and what I called head and heart. [

There was one thing I was not prepared for as Minister of Police, and it was a bad case of shaver’s rash that I got after 100 UK recruits kissed me on the cheek at the police college, when I welcomed them to New Zealand. It was the closest I ever got to an operational matter. My one regret is the manner in which the Urewera raids of 2007 were carried out. Although the Minister of Police has no involvement in operational matters, I have gone to Tūhoe and I have made my peace with their people.

In 2008, we were back in Opposition and I had two stints as deputy, first with Phil Goff and then Andrew. Phil Goff is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He is the original “Energizer bunny”. I left him in charge of the health portfolio when I went overseas, but I only did it once. My staff begged me to never do it again. He demanded everything that was on the internet for every oral question that was asked. We sat together in this House for 20 years, and we are good mates.

Andrew—Andrew, you brought unity to our caucus and renewal to our front bench. Look at this line up. The average age is 47 years—I have not added what the Government’s is. But I have to tell you it is brimming with talent. And Andrew, you have ensured our next caucus will be made up to close to 50 percent women.

Jacinda, I am so proud of you. I have a feeling that you are going to lead the party for years to come, and you are going to be one of our most loved and effective leaders and Prime Ministers.

I have been privileged to represent the Miramar-Rongotai electorate for 24 years, including the Chatham Islands, a unique part of New Zealand. The Chatham Islands are very independent, and proud of their islands, and they are also very innovative. They were asked to provide land for a nuclear test monitoring station by the UN as part of the international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. They responded that the only land available was at the airport, 20 minutes from town, and, unfortunately, there was no reticulated power there. There is now, and half the cost was paid by the UN.

My electorate is one of the most diverse in New Zealand and a sanctuary to new settlers and refugees from many parts of the world, and I have been proud of New Zealand’s commitment to receiving UNHCR mandated refugees. They make a fantastic contribution to New Zealand. In 2001, our Government welcomed 40 unaccompanied minors from the ship Tampa, to New Zealand. They had been rejected by Australia. That was a proud moment. I want the next incoming Government to make us proud again—double the refugee quota

Rongotai is the home of creativity, ideas, and jobs arising from the film industry—old factories were turned into studios and workshops. I say to my colleagues opposite, it was the fifth Labour Government that kick started the film industry in Wellington, contrary to popular propaganda.

Rongotai is the home of social housing. If any Government wants a good model, look no further than the partnership between our Government and the Wellington City Council, which resulted in warm, dry, affordable apartments for the most vulnerable citizens.

I leave this seat with a sense of achievement—Wellington has only had to wait 50 years for its new hospital—but also with a sense of sadness. But it is tempered by the fact that Paul Eagle will become the next member of Parliament for Rongotai.

Hon Christopher Finlayson: What about me?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I know my cousin Chris Finlayson would want a recount if he was to win.

Many things have changed in the intervening 33 years. The bars have all but disappeared. The all-night sittings have gone. Gambling schools have closed—although I still owe Jim Sutton $60. Time-wasting procedures in this House have been done away with. The Parliament now sits more days of the year, and Bellamy’s food is healthier. When I arrived, we were offered two roasts a day, and I set about putting salads on the menu. Muldoon went on TV and he complained. He said “There’s this woman in Parliament, and she’s put salad on the menu, and it’s not good for you.” And there are now enough toilets for women. That was not always the case. This is a better place for members, for their families, and for staff.

So in conclusion, it is time for me to go. I had 15 years in Government and 15 years in Opposition. I have now been informed that I am the longest-serving woman member of Parliament. That officially makes me the “Grannie Annie” of the House. The people I have met, the places I have been, the chances to make a difference—it has been a privilege.

It is time to acknowledge and thank those who have been with me over 33 years. To the Labour Party—you gave me the chance to be an MP. I would not be here without you. To members and supporters—thank you, particularly my Labour electorate committee chairs Peter Noble; the late Mike Herne; Peter Franks; the longest serving of them all; and Eileen Brown. To my electorate staff—the formidable late Tilly Hunter, Marea Falck, Robin Boldarin, Bill Nairn, and Sophia Shanks. My patient and talented parliamentary team—Jennifer Rose, Emma Williams, and Angela Bray, who made today possible. I could not have done it without you, Ange. They all have one thing in common: they know my PIN number, and they know where to find things that I have lost. And Jenny happens to know my bra size. She was once dispatched on urgent public business to buy me a new one.

My loyal friends, who have stuck with me even when I forgotten to phone them, and my four closest are here today—Mary, Jenny, Marie, and Liz. My family—Dad, who is now 95-years-old, who will be watching. I hope I have done you proud, Dad. My late Mum, who loved politics—she watched everything I did and said, and she would phone and tell me whether she liked what I was wearing, or whether I had enough curl in my hair. I hope it looks all right today, Mum.

To my two wonderful sisters, Raelene and Pauline, and their husbands, Bill and Pete—they were forced to work on all my campaigns.

To my new family, gained when I married Ray: Christopher, Daniel, Ben, their partners, and my four step-grandchildren who do call me Grannie Annie.

To my daughter Amanda: I am so proud of you, darling. I hope you have forgiven me for the times I put politics ahead of you. You married a good Ozzie bloke, Tim. He is my favourite son-in-law, and you gave me my grandson William, the most beautiful boy in the world.

And, finally, to my husband and lover, Ray: after 18 years, yes, we are still on our honeymoon. When I told you on our first date I never intended to marry again, you replied: “I didn’t know I’d asked you.” We have been laughing ever since. I think I am the only person who asked to look at your teeth before I would marry you. You are my best friend.

Finally, to my colleagues—people often think politicians dislike each other. It is not true. I have liked and respected many colleagues from all side of politics—many I call friends who have made life in this place enjoyable, fun, and, at times, challenging. I respect those who have the courage to put themselves forward in an election, to be open to scrutiny and criticism, and to be accessible. Where else in the world would you meet your MP at the fish and chip shop on a Friday night in their slippers. I do believe people come here wanting to make our country a better place.

I cannot finish without a special mention to my Wellington colleagues, Grant, “Chippie”, Kris, and Trevor. We have been a great team, and I am sorry, Peter, but we intend to paint the whole of Wellington red at this election—

Hon Member: Dreams are free.

Hon ANNETTE KING: —ha, ha—and with a good tail wind we want to take Wairarapa as well.

Finally, to the fantastic staff who make this place work: thank you. As MPs we are so well served by caring and professional people.

A person who exemplifies commitment to this place by our staff is Sheryl Grace, our Senior Security Officer, who is retiring in September after 38 years of service—congratulations, and thank you, Sheryl, wherever you are.

So, Mr Speaker, it is goodbye from me—over and out.


Bread and Roses sung