Elliotts' suffering shook me - Power

Justice Minister Simon Power. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Justice Minister Simon Power. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Justice Minister Simon Power says sitting in the home of Gil and Lesley Elliott, parents of murdered university graduate Sophie Elliott, and listening to their experiences of the justice system deeply affected him.

"It had a profound effect on me and the way I viewed our legal system," he told Parliament last night in his valedictory speech, bowing out after three rapidly reforming years as a minister.

"Good, decent, kind people whose lives were destroyed by tragedy deserve our help, not a slow-motion replay of the horror they went through."

Mr Power addressed his reputation for willing to work with political opponents, a stance which has seen him agree to Opposition changes to legislation part-way through debates.

"My experience has been that expanding the decision-making mandate, without sacrificing the kernel of the idea, has improved the legislative product immeasurably. That meant not being afraid to back down and ... listening to an alternative view."

He said there were many issues Parliament was too afraid to deal with for fear of losing votes: abortion, adoption law, children's rights, and sexual violence.

He suggested an independent body to consider applications for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, for a pardon or reduction in sentence or referral back to court. "I remain troubled by a number of these cases."

He followed speeches by North Shore MP Wayne Mapp, list MP Georgina Te Heuheu and Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie.

Another notable valedictory this week was from Progressive leader Jim Anderton, a former Labour MP who left to form the Alliance Party to oppose Labour's free-market reforms.

The Alliance's biggest gain in coalition with a later Labour Government was the establishment again of a state-owned bank, Kiwibank, and Mr Anderton delighted Parliament with a new story of the negotiations with Labour - and the nudge given by deputy leader Annette King to then Finance Minister Michael Cullen.

"Annette King finally turned to Michael Cullen after three hours of this and said these immortal words: 'Michael, Jim's beaten back every argument against the bank we've ever put up, for God's sake give him the bloody bank.' And Michael Cullen ... said: 'Oh, all right then."'

Mr Anderton advised the current Labour caucus to ignore the polls and "hang in there", recalling a conversation with former Labour leader Bill Rowling.

"I remember Bill looking at grim polling news in 1981 ... and the poll trends indicated that ... Labour would actually get no votes whatsoever," he said.

The party went on to gain more votes than the National Government, although under the first-past-the-post system lost the election.

- NZ Herald

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