Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Green MP Kevin Hague's farewell plea to MPs: 'be brave. Stand for something.'

Green MP Kevin Hague after the passing of the marriage equality bill - one of the highlights of his eight years in Parliament. Photo/Mark Mitchell
Green MP Kevin Hague after the passing of the marriage equality bill - one of the highlights of his eight years in Parliament. Photo/Mark Mitchell

Green MP Kevin Hague has bid his farewell to Parliament with a plea to his fellow MPs to be brave and grapple with important issues such as euthanasia and drug reform.

In his valedictory, Hague said "political timidity" was holding up important reforms such as assisted dying, drug law reform and adoption law reform.

"These are all areas where the members' bill process is poorly suited to considered reform and a solid public mandate already exists for change. These are also areas where archaic law harms people in terrible ways every day.

So I appeal to all parties: please, be brave. Stand for something."

Hague entered Parliament in 2008 and is leaving to take up the role as chief executive of Forest and Bird.

One of the rare breed of MPs to have earned respect across the parliamentary spectrum, Hague said he had friends across Parliament.

"It has always seemed to me that positive relationships stop disagreement about some issues from getting in the way of collaborating on others."

He gave credit to Prime Minister John Key and National for working with him on areas such as the Cycle Trails and predator-free New Zealand, as well as Nikki Kaye for work on a bill to overhaul adoption law.

However, it was not all bouquets for National.

Hague said funding for health services had dropped in real terms since 2008, while $20 billion had been into the roads of national significance.

"To me that suggests the priorities are entirely the wrong way around."

Hague began his speech with a story about a sailing trip in the Coromandel in which he and his partner Ian took turns on 24-hour 'anchor watch' motoring the boat back across a bay after the wind dragged it to the other side.

"We did that again and again and again. We were eventually exhausted. Eight years of Opposition has felt something like that.

I guess for me, what we've had to do is find a way to pick ourselves up and find a way to punch back into that storm. But now my watch has ended."

There was a resounding 'hear, hear' when Hague said one of his regrets in leaving was that he would never become a minister "and I think I might have done a pretty good job of that."

Hague listed achievements including helping bring about culture change at ACC, his involvement in the campaign for marriage equality and saving Mokihinui River.

The West Coast-based MP said the work he was proudest of was on health and safety after the Pike River mining disaster.

"I have felt a heavy responsibility for that work. I have been pleased to contribute to a major overhaul of workplace health and safety regulation in this country.

But I've been frustrated and angry that nobody from the board or the senior management of the Pike River coal company has been held to account or will ever be held to account for what has occurred.

And that 29 men still have not been brought home to their families."

Hague said he hoped three projects he was leaving behind would be seen through to a successful end, including better health services for transgender New Zealanders, a petition for an apology and wiping the convictions of gay men convicted of consensual sexual activity before homosexual law reform, and his campaign for the Education Review Office to audit whether schools were safe for lesbian, homosexual and transgender students.

Hague announced he was leaving earlier this month, saying the rigours of travel to and from Parliament had taken their toll.

He lost a contest for the Green Party co-leadership to James Shaw in 2015 and said while he was disappointed, he had come to terms with it.

- NZ Herald

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