Valedictories should be given only by politicians who have made a mark

No fewer than 14 National MPs are retiring at the coming election, plus a couple from other parties. While the turnover is refreshing for public life, it carries a cost if every departee gives a valedictory address.

That cost became apparent this week when the Prime Minister remarked that the loss of John Banks' vote would not make much difference to the Government's remaining legislation because valedictories would take up much of the time left in this term of Parliament. Really?

Members enjoy valedictories. They are relief at last from the constant antagonism of party politics. Those retiring receive a more attentive hearing than they have had since their maiden speech. They go out in a burst of bonhomie from both sides of the House that heals old wounds.

Those not retiring enjoy the moment just as much.


Parliament becomes a club of hearty and generous members who understand their disagreements and can put them aside momentarily.

The truce is all the better for the fact that both sides know they will soon be in bitter combat for an election.

But if so many are leaving that their valedictories may take up sittings over several days, it is time to ask whether all deserve one. Few voters could name many of those retiring this year. Many are leaving because they have not been able to make much impact and accept that they should give others a chance. More credit to them, but valedictory time should be reserved for those who have made their mark and will be missed.