Former Ministers have addressed "trauma and humiliation" as well as the "pain and relief" of being an MP during their valedictory speeches in Parliament last night.

One revealed that they had even contemplated suicide due to the intense pressure of being an MP, and subsequent media criticism.

A number of MPs bowed out of Parliament, giving their final address to the House last night.

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Iain Lees-Galloway, who was sacked from Cabinet by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern two weeks ago, used his speech to apologise to his family.

"The trauma they have experienced has been excruciating," he said.

The former Immigration and Workplace Relations Minister lost his job, following an extramarital affair with a former staffer.

His position as a minister was no longer tenable, according to Ardern, given his Workplace Relations responsibilities.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

"I am sorry for the hurt and humiliation I have inflicted on my family and for the direct impact my actions have had on so many others," he told the House.

He admitted that the relationship with the former staffer was not appropriate, and acknowledged the power imbalance involved.

Lees-Galloway spoke of the "dehumanising trauma" that he, and his family, experienced after he said they were used for "headlines and clickbait".

But he said his family were "tough cookies … We will come out of this stronger, together."
When he looked back at his life, it would be divided into two periods – before 2020, and after 2020.

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He said it had been a rough year: "There was the near-end of our marriage, the death of my father and now the end of my political career. We even had to put the dog to sleep a few weeks ago."

Lees-Galloway praised Ardern and spoke highly of the Government's record and some of his achievements, such as extending paid parental leave.

But he spoke of some of the difficulties he had with Labour's coalition partner, New Zealand First.

"If stakeholder relationships can be hard to manage, they've got nothing on coalition relationships."

Former Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway during his valedictory speech in Parliament, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Former Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway during his valedictory speech in Parliament, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In fact, he said that at the beginning of the term, he would never have guessed he would be the Immigration Minister who closed New Zealand's borders.

"I mean, I knew we were in coalition with NZ First, but it still never crossed my mind."

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Lees-Galloway also used the opportunity to give some policy advice to the next Government.

He said the Holiday's Act needed to be reformed and New Zealand's current universal superannuation entitlement is "unsustainable".

He suggested a means-tested entitlement from age 60 and a universal entitlement from age 70.

"As I said, I don't have to get re-elected. But I'll leave that one with you."

Labour's Raymond Huo also gave his political swan song last night, as did Green MP Gareth Hughes.

"I can look at myself in the mirror and know I did not sell out," Hughes said of his time in Parliament.

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Then Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Ruth Dyson gives a speech.
Then Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Ruth Dyson gives a speech.

And Labour's Ruth Dyson – who was elected to Parliament in 1993 as New Zealand's 37th woman MP – also gave her valedictory speech.

"I came into this House as a community political activist and I hope to leave as one."

She spoke of her pride at championing making sign language an official language of New Zealand.

Another achievement she was proud of was only being kicked out of Parliament once.

But she did talk about how she took crack at a former Speaker, National's David Carter, on Twitter a few years ago.

She said he was: "Incompetent. Biased. Doesn't like the job. Lazy. Sexist. Doesn't give a toss".

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"I remember Gerry Brownlee thundering about how outrageous it was that I had called him [Carter] biased."

Dyson held many positions in Parliament, both in Government and in opposition.

During her time as a Minister, she held 13 portfolios. More recently, she's been Labour's chief whip and Assistant Speaker.

"I haven't been the Speaker of our Parliament … yet," she said, glancing at Speaker Trevor Mallard.

Clare Curran: 'Our political system is sick'

Another former Minister, Clare Curran – who was sacked from Cabinet by Ardern in mid-2018 – also gave her last address to the House last night.

"It is with pain and relief I stand to give my final speech."

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She said her time as an MP was a privilege but at times she was made "public spectacle".
"I've recently called out the behaviour in our Parliament and described our political culture as toxic.

"For our political system is sick and we all know it."

Clare Curran, Labour MP for Dunedin South, during her valedictory speech in Parliament, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Clare Curran, Labour MP for Dunedin South, during her valedictory speech in Parliament, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Curran revealed that there was a point when she had "counted the number of sleeping pills I had".

"Thankfully, I sought help instead."

She was critical of the media in her speech, saying it was focused on conflict, perceived or real slip-ups rather than substance and the quality of ideas.

"Politicians should be held accountable. But we are not prey. The accountability lacks perspective. If you don't believe me, go ask the public.

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Curran took particular issue with RNZ.

"The UK has the BBC, Australia the ABC," she said, referring to state broadcasters.

"We have a much smaller entity, RNZ, which I fear has lost its way in holding all media to a higher standard."

But she also said it had been a privilege being an MP.

Her speech was given "with a continued sense of wonder and awareness at the sheer privilege of having had this opportunity".