Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Dalziel stepping down to enter mayoral race

Lianne Dalziel. Photo / NZPA
Lianne Dalziel. Photo / NZPA

Resigning Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has spoken of "hitting a wall" amid a Christchurch Hospital scandal which led to the death of patients - one of the lowpoints in her 23-year Parliamentary career.

The Labour MP for Christchurch East is stepping down to enter the mayoral race for Christchurch, and gave her valedictory speech in Parliament yesterday .

Ms Dalziel was health spokeswoman in 1996 when a damning Health and Disability Commission report showed that a number of patients had died at Christchurch Hospital in circumstances where the deaths were preventable.

Ms Dalziel, 53, told Parliament that she invested significant time investigating the deaths and getting to know the patients' families.

The Herald reported at the time that the MP had an emotional collapse.

She said yesterday : "It is true that I hit the wall. The explanation I offer, as I leave this place, is that the core of my inner being was rocked by discovering that the same ethical approach that guides clinicians and health professionals in their work, did not apply to those managing the public health system in such an environment.

"I may have crashed, but as I have found out, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Under a Helen Clark-led Government, Ms Dalziel held the immigration, commerce, and associate justice portfolios. She described the decision to accept Afghani refugees from the Tampa container boat as a milestone in New Zealand's history, because it showed what a small country could play "when called upon to do so".

Ms Dalziel recalled other lowpoints - her regret as Commerce Minister in failing to fully regulate finance companies which later collapsed, and her resignation from Cabinet after leaking a document relating to the deportation of a Sri Lankan teenager.

She defended the controversial discussion of a "man-ban" in the Labour caucus earlier this year, saying that bloggers which mocked it had done a disservice to the debate.

"I encourage all parties to explore every option to improve women's participation. It does matter that young girls see this as a place they can aspire to serve and they must not find that they are staring through a glass ceiling."

Ms Dalziel said her priorities had changed sinced the earthquakes in her hometown, and Parliament no longer seemed as relevant.

"I remember 23 years ago... I said I wanted to be the face of the people who couldn't be seen and the voice of the people who couldn't be heard. And for a magic moment in time, in the silt-sodden streets of the east of Christchurch, I truly felt that I had lived up to what I entered Parliament to do."

- NZ Herald

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