John Armstrong

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Hide refuses to give traditional farewell

Winston Peters claimed at NZ First's annual convention that Rodney Hide had been offered a plum job to go quietly. Photo / Richard Robinson
Winston Peters claimed at NZ First's annual convention that Rodney Hide had been offered a plum job to go quietly. Photo / Richard Robinson

Former Act leader Rodney Hide will not be delivering a farewell speech to Parliament because as far as he is concerned he is not retiring from politics.

He is instead being pushed out of the House by his successor.

Retiring MPs traditionally deliver a valedictory speech before the House rises for an election in which they review the highs and lows of their parliamentary career.

"I am not retiring," Mr Hide said last night. "I did not choose to be pushed out."

However, he denied his decision was a protest directed at Don Brash, who ousted him from the Act leadership in April and subsequently gave a clear signal Mr Hide would not be getting a high place on Act's candidate list. "It's not a big deal."

Winston Peters yesterday claimed the National Party had effectively bought Mr Hide's silence after his resignation as Act's leader by offering him a plum job at taxpayers' expense.

"Who, by the way, was promised a top post at the expense of taxpayers after the election if he would just go quietly?

"You know. Day one not going. Day two going and happy," Mr Peters told the 300-plus delegates at New Zealand First's annual convention in reference to Mr Hide's protracted decision about whether to resign after Dr Brash mounted his challenge.

Mr Peters later refused to say what the job offer might have been. Rumours of such an offer have been circulating at Parliament in recent weeks. But Mr Hide said last night they were simply not true. He in turn accused the New Zealand First leader of being delusional.

Mr Peters told the convention that National's efforts to seek electoral accommodations in Epsom and in Peter Dunne's Ohariu seat showed that party "knows the opinion polls are not worth the paper they are printed on".

New Zealand First is polling around 2 per cent of the party vote - well short of the 5 per cent threshold needed to be entitled to seats in Parliament.

Mr Peters' speech contained a new policy initiative which would see welfare benefits slashed for those who refused to co-operate with police inquiries into child abuse.

He also promised to repeal the anti-smacking law and halt the sale to foreigners of the Crafar farms, which he predicted would go into overseas hands immediately after November's election.

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