Parliament has bid farewell to four resigning National MPs with one using his final speech to urge politicians to avoid blaming previous governments for poor policy delivery and get on with the job.
Four National MPs gave their valedictory speeches this evening: Todd Muller, Ian McKelvie, David Bennett and Jacqui Dean
As reported earlier in the Herald, Muller warned MPs of the tough choices they faced in order to live up to climate commitments and what he learned through his mental health struggles while holding the National Party leadership.
McKelvie, MP for Rangitīkei, said one of the key principles he used in his 28 years of public life was never denying a problem.
“I have to say one of the greatest downfalls of success of ministers in this place is their failure to recognise or admit to a problem and getting on with fixing it,” he said.
“It seems we’re able to go on blaming previous governments or previous administrations for years and years, but a piece of advice for Members of Parliament would be; don’t blame the others, don’t hide from the problem.”
He said Parliament had increased its focus on improving the wellbeing of MPs and staff but didn’t appropriately recognise the “extreme and unacceptable prying of private lives of MPs”.
“This would never happen in the corporate world or down on the farm and it shouldn’t happen here.
“If we don’t reach some agreement as a society as to the boundaries here, we will undermine democracy and chase the very people we want running for Parliament away for good.”
He believed there had been little improvement in the functioning of select committees. McKelvie had chaired two in his 12 years as an MP.
“As I leave here, I’m sad to say they do not work any better than they did when I arrived and by that I mean, they missed the opportunity to achieve much more for New Zealanders because of the partisan nature of them.
“Were they able to operate in a semi-bipartisan manner doing what’s best for the legislation or the inquiry or financial review in front of them, we would produce a much better result for the parliament, the government and the people of New Zealand,” McKelvie said, noting a four-year term would aid this.
There was a surprise shout-out for former Labour minister and Te Pāti Māori co-founder Dame Tariana Turia, who McKelvie deemed the “most courageous politician of my time”.
Bennett and Dean’s speeches were well-received, with the pair having roads and driving as common themes.
Bennett, a five-time MP for Hamilton East, gave a detailed account of his love for the Waikato Expressway, a project linking Auckland and Waikato which he was involved in initiating.
Baby Julia, sitting with mum Nicky in the public gallery, appeared just as passionate about the improvement of roading to Hamilton as her father, given she was vocal throughout the speech.
Transport also featured strongly in Dean’s address as the MP for Waitaki spoke of the nearly 10,000 km of roads within her large electorate and her struggles trying to navigate it.
She then shifted to discussing the poor state of health provision in areas of the South Island and cited inadequate immigration settings holding back several sectors.