Kate Wilkinson’s valedictory

July 24, 2014

Hon Kate Wilkinson delivered her valedictory speech yesterday:

Hon KATE WILKINSON (National – Waimakariri): When I first entered this House 9 years ago I was a list member of Parliament in a Labour-held safe seat. I leave this place as the electorate member of Parliament for Waimakariri in a National-held seat. This just goes to show that anything can happen and one should never ever take one’s electorates for granted. Now I will leave this place, never ever to suffer defeat as an electorate MP. I especially want to thank the 16,787 voters of Waimakariri—well, actually, one of them was me—who entrusted me with their electorate vote and with the responsibility of representing them in Parliament. What a tremendous honour and a privilege. Constituency work has always been, for me, the most satisfying aspect of the job. There is nothing better than seeing a constituent come into my office with a problem and leave without it. Of course, not all problems are able to be solved. To the 20,489 Waimakariri voters who had the common sense and wisdom to give National their party vote, well done, thank you, and long may that trend continue, and long may National be the party of choice for you. By the way, when I first stood, our party vote in Waimakariri was in deficit by 6,790 votes. We won the party vote that election by 81 votes, a good reflection that indeed every vote does count. In total that is a turn-round of about 20,000 party votes during my tenure. I have been an Opposition backbencher and a Government backbencher. I have been a list member of Parliament and an electorate member of Parliament, and I do not need to comment on which is better. I have been given the absolute privilege of being a Cabinet Minister. That is like being selected for the * All Black team. Not everyone gets to be an All Black, and not every All Black gets to play 100 test matches. So I feel very honoured and privileged to have been selected for the team and to have been able to play my part. Thanks, in particular, to our Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key. Without a doubt, he is one of the best Prime Ministers in New Zealand’s history. I will certainly take some reflected glory in having been selected as part of his Cabinet team for just over 4 years, and for his caucus team. For those who have not yet read the biography, I feature on pages 194 and 215.

Hon Member: It’s a good read.

Hon KATE WILKINSON: It is a good read. The stewardship and governance of New Zealand, shown especially by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, Bill English, throughout what has undoubtedly been some of our most challenging times has been outstanding, and I will always be proud of being part of that team. Special thanks must go to my electorate team over the years—my National Party volunteers, friends, and family, many of whom are here today and who have travelled so far just to be here.

[Continuation line: It is a bit embarrassing, really]


It is a bit embarrassing, really. If they had not believed in me, supported me, befriended me, advised me, fed me, and looked after me, I would not have been here in the first place, I would not have been able to be here for 9 years, and my tenure here would not have been so fantastic. Thank you also to them and to the National Party for honouring me with this opportunity. To my class of 2005, thank you. To my caucus colleagues, it has been a fantastic journey together. Those remaining do have a huge responsibility to keep looking after our country, making sure it does not get into the wrong hands, protecting both our economy and our environment. I know that you will do this well. To my fellow valedictors, if that is a word, all the best with your post-parliamentary lives. To Natalie, Nat, Natto—she hates that—my executive assistant and then my senior private secretary, you are the best person I have ever worked with. You seemed to understand me, which was no mean feat. You held our team together in room 4.3. I will not embarrass you by tabling in the House your long-awaited reference from me, but here it is. Pick it up later over drinks. To all my team, who are all here except for ______,

[Ms Wilkinson, please supply name. Thank you.]

who I understand is, hopefully, watching this from Russia, thank you for all your support and friendship over the years. They say things happen in threes. Well, I was a member of Parliament in Canterbury. Under my watch the worst natural disaster, the earthquakes, happened. I was Minister of Conservation. Under my watch the worst environmental maritime disaster, the * Rena, happened. And I was Minister of Labour. Under my watch the worst workplace safety disaster, Pike River, happened. Can I say that at least as * Associate Minister of Immigration I did not let ** Mike Tyson into the country. Like every Canterbury member of Parliament, the earthquake events will always stand out for me. What a remarkable time to be a member of Parliament for an electorate and in a home town that was devastated by the earthquakes. I feel honoured to have helped our district in my capacity as MP through what has surely been its darkest time, from shovelling silt during those early days to informing residents of each and every new service and funding the National-led Government provided towards our recovery, as well as the hours and hours of work helping our residents navigate through the repair and rebuild of their homes. We have all learnt so much together, developing a new vocabulary along the way and learning about resilience and community, concepts we lived and which held us together so well. To the Hon Gerry Brownlee, Canterbury and Christchurch owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Your legacy will be remarkable. I have always believed that New Zealand is the best country in the world, and that was certainly borne out during my nearly 4 years as Minister of Conservation. What a fantastic portfolio to have had the privilege of holding. I remember to this day my very first kiwi release. To hold one of those iconic, beautiful birds was a treasure I shall always remember. On this first occasion I was given some very sage advice as I was holding the kiwi firmly, fondly, and possessively. I must admit that the advice was not that welcome. Basically, I was advised in no uncertain terms. They said: “Minister, the idea of a kiwi release is you actually let go of the kiwi and release it.” Thank you, Gavin. One of the absolute highlights, apart from naming one of our * kākāpō Jack—who, by the way, is now 3 years old, fit, well, and starting to boom—

Hon Members: Oh!

Hon KATE WILKINSON: Exactly. One of the highlights has to be taking Prince William to * Kāpiti Island. What a delightful young man. I would not mind hanging him up in my wardrobe. I have a photo hanging in pride of place on my wall of the prince flanked by the Prime Minister and me. I must admit there was a fleeting moment when I considered cropping the photo, but I did not. The trick, as we all know, with photos is to try to stand in the middle so there is no possibility of being cropped out. Sorry, Nathan. I also remember, when I was Minister of Conservation, having to do a media stand-up with my colleague Gerry Brownlee, who was then * Minister of Energy and Resources. There were some critics who said I was not even there, so I just want to put it on the record once and for all that I can assure them I was there; it is just that the camera lens maybe was not wide enough for the both of us. In my time as Minister of Labour there were good times and bad times. The ink on my warrant barely had time to dry when I was told that my 90-day trial bill would be one of the first in our term to go on the * Order Paper. It has now been in place for just on 6 years. The protections we built into the legislation worked, and in that time there has been no amendment needed apart from, of course, extending it from small businesses to all businesses. Indeed, that one piece of policy and legislation was credited with having provided 13,000 new jobs in its first year. We had finally caught up with what had happened in most jurisdictions throughout the world. It would be sad if ideology reversed all this. It has helped so many and hurt so few. Most memorable, sadly, was the Pike River mining tragedy. I cannot resile from the absolute fact that 29 men died under my watch. Although I was not personally responsible, I was the responsible Minister, and it happened under my watch. We all wish we could turn back the clock and prevent such a disaster and keep those men safe. We cannot, but I am proud of the setting up of the Royal commission inquiry and now implementing its recommendations, putting the spotlight on workplace safety. We often have a national culture of “she’ll be right”, but it too often is not right. We lose a worker about once a week and a farmer once a month, and a farmer is hurt about every 30 minutes. So often those deaths and injuries could have been avoided. We need to change that culture and simply look after our workmates. Governments can only do so much and can only be so effective. Workplaces and workmates can do more. The food safety portfolio is a fascinating one, although when I was first given the portfolio, a good friend of mine did comment that if the Prime Minister had looked inside my fridge, he would not have given me food safety. Anyway, it started for me with the folic acid debate—not the most memorable one for me. Throughout all the discussions as to how many slices of bread one would need to consume to get the daily intake of folic acid, it remarkably went unnoticed that, actually, I cannot even eat bread. However, the portfolio ended for me with a success, having negotiated with our Australian counterparts on a joint health claims standard. I even had the Australian Minister who chairs the forum make a special trip over here to see me, not particularly happy about trying to convince New Zealand to go with the Australians and not opt out of a joint standard. We won through in the end; otherwise it would had stifled innovation and cost our businesses millions, if not billions, of dollars. There are two lessons from that. Firstly, we have definitely not lost our sovereignty to Australia, and, secondly, if it is good news, it does not always get the good publicity it deserves. In fact, more column space was spent on my being mistakenly referred to as “**“ Kate Middleton” than on this food treaty success. Our work in select committees, as has been said, often goes unnoticed by the public. They do not often see the collaborative approach to make good law, whatever our respective ideologies and beliefs. My first success in a select committee was changing the word “the” to the word “a”, and one of my last successes was changing “can” to “may”. Words can, indeed, make a difference. Yet we still have some really, really stupid laws, or maybe it is just that we have enabled some of our laws to be interpreted stupidly. Why, for example, can I no longer use my business card in the regulated period? Apparently that is deemed electioneering. It is a business card, for goodness’ sake, and I am not even standing for re-election. Local successes are always the sweeter. I am particularly proud to have been instrumental in obtaining our health hub in * Rangiora, and thanks must go to the Hon Tony Ryall for his support for this and for making it happen.

[Continuation line: This is a milestone eagerly and long awaited]


This is a milestone eagerly and long awaited by residents to supplement our world-class St John paramedic team serving residents after hours, an award-winning response model. It is so much more worthwhile and responsible to look pragmatically and objectively for solutions rather than negatively focusing on the problems. I always preferred to work hard behind the scenes and help solve problems in priority to trying to attract any headline. We all have a best-before date and a use-by date, although I believe that some do not recognise either. But I was reminded of that at a university club day I was attending, to help out and support our wonderful, energetic, and enthusiastic * Young Nats. A student coming up to our stand made the comment to me: “You look familiar. Do I know you?” Not being one to ever use the phrase “Don’t you know who I am?”, one of our helpful Young Nats started to say “Oh, she is a local MP. She is a Minister.”, etc., when the inquirer interrupted and said: “I know. You remind me of my grandmother.” That was a reality check. Still, the alternative to getting older is worse, but it does serve to remind us that this is not a job for life. It goes very quickly and we must make the most of each and every day. Most of us come to this place to make a difference, to make New Zealand a better place. Some do it better than others, some have different views on how to make that difference, some do it differently than others, and probably some do not make any difference at all. I hope in my small way that I have made some small difference to some people. It is a remarkable thing, though. As soon as I made the decision not to stand again, my bucket list magically got bigger and bigger. So now it is time to start emptying that bucket. A big job, I know, but I am up for it. Until 20 September I have a job to do, but then I am away to tick off the first agenda item on my bucket list. It will be the first time in 9 years that I have not had to ask the permission of our whips. Obviously, there will be some things I miss about this place, but there are also things I definitely will not miss. No longer will I have to ask for leave to go to the * Christchurch Show Day or to go on holiday. I will always cherish my time working with and for our residents of * Waimakariri as their MP. I have loved the job. I have valued the opportunity. I have been humbled by the privilege. But now it is time to step away and tread a different path, or, as my GPS frequently tells me, “route recalculation”. As some have been known to say, I have been around for over 30 million minutes so far—not all in this place, although nearly 5 million minutes have been spent here. It is time for me to use those remaining minutes differently. There are now more restaurants and bars in Christchurch than before the earthquakes—more than 120 news ones. I have not tried them all, so I can start working my way through them. Bucket list, here I come. In closing, can I say that in 2005 I was so excited to be here, and now, 9 years later, I am so excited to leave.

It’s not about the scarf

July 24, 2014

David Cunliffe has said a lot of sorrys recently, the latest and silliest is for his scarf:

. . . After being criticised for his red scarf, Mr Cunliffe says he won’t wear it as much.

“You know what – I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,” he says. “But it won’t be on every day… I quite like the colour red.” . . .

If anyone’s vote is influenced by a scarf they deserve what they get.

It’s not about the scarf, it’s about the fact that it looked like part of a costume for a part he’s playing and his wearing it seemed  affected as a lot of what Cunliffe does and says does.

One of the big criticisms of him is that he’s a different man to different audiences and that he’s not comfortable in his own skin.

When he gets down to being sorry for his scarf, is it any wonder?



Not either or

July 24, 2014

Prime Minister John Key exposes the Green Party’s belief that economic growth and environmental protection are mutually exclusive:

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member’s question was quite instructive, actually, because his argument was that to produce more, you have to pollute more. On this side of the House, we actually totally and utterly disagree with that, but it does show what the member is thinking, and that is, of course, if you want to pollute less—which is something we accept the Green Party wants to do—you have to produce less, and boy will the Greens be producing less if they ever assume the Treasury benches.

Less pollution is something most people agree is a worthy aim but it doesn’t have to be either less pollution or more growth and contrary to the Green’s world view we do need a strong economy if we’re to afford environmental protection and enhancement.

Anyone who’s been in the third world knows  poorer economies have poorer environmental standards.


July 24 in history

July 24, 2014

1132 Battle of Nocera between Ranulf II of Alife and Roger II of Sicily.

1148  Louis VII of France  laid siege to Damascus during the Second Crusade.

1411  Battle of Harlaw, one of the bloodiest battles in Scotland.

1487  Citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands struck against ban on foreign beer.

1534  French explorer Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula and took possession of the territory in the name of Francis I of France.

1567  Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate and replaced by her 1-year-old son James VI.

1701  Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded the trading post at Fort Pontchartrain, which later became the city of Detroit, Michigan.

1715 A Spanish treasure fleet of 10 ships under Admiral Ubilla left Havana  for Spain.

1725 John Newton, English cleric and hymnist, was born (d. 1807).

1783 Simón Bolívar, South American liberator, was born (d. 1830).
1802 Alexandre Dumas, père, French writer, was born (d. 1870).

1814  War of 1812: General Phineas Riall advanced toward the Niagara River to halt Jacob Brown’s American invaders.

1823  Slavery was abolished in Chile.

1832  Benjamin Bonneville led  the first wagon train across the Rocky Mountains by using Wyoming’s South Pass.

1847  After 17 months of travel, Brigham Young led 148 Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley, resulting in the establishment of Salt Lake City.

1864  American Civil War: Battle of Kernstown – Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early defeated Union troops led by General George Crook in an effort to keep them out of the Shenandoah Valley.

1866  Reconstruction: Tennessee became the first U.S. State to be readmitted to the Union following the American Civil War.

1874 Oswald Chambers, Scottish minister and writer, was born (d. 1917).

1895  Robert Graves, English author, was born  (d. 1985).

1897 Amelia Earhart, American aviator, was born (disappeared 1937).

1901  O. Henry was released from prison after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank.

1911  Hiram Bingham III re-discovered Machu Picchu, “the Lost City of the Incas”.

1915  The passenger ship S.S. Eastland capsised in central Chicago, with the loss of 845 lives.

1923  The Treaty of Lausanne, settling the boundaries of modern Turkey, was signed.

1927  The Menin Gate war memorial is unveiled at Ypres.

1929  The Kellogg-Briand Pact, renouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy went  into effect.

1931  A fire at a home for the elderly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania killed 48 people.

1935  The world’s first children’s railway opened in Tbilisi, USSR.

1935   The dust bowl heat wave reached its peak, sending temperatures to 109°F (44°C) in Chicago and 104°F (40°C) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1937 Alabama dropped rape charges against the so-called “Scottsboro Boys“.

1938 First ascent of the Eiger north face.

1943 World War II: Operation Gomorrah began: British and Canadian aeroplanes bombed Hamburg by night, those of the Americans by day.

1950 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station began operations with the launch of a Bumper rocket.

1959  At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev have a “Kitchen Debate“.

1966 Michael Pelkey and Brian Schubert made the first BASE jump from El Capitan. Both came out with broken bones.

1967  During an official state visit to Canada, French President Charles de Gaulle declared to a crowd of over 100,000 in Montreal: Vive le Québec libre! (“Long live free Quebec!”). The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the Canadian government and many English Canadians.

1969 Jennifer Lopez, American actress and singer, was born.

1969  Apollo 11 splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

1972 Bugojno group was caught by Yugoslav security forces.

1974 Watergate scandal: the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon did not have the authority to withhold subpoenaed White House tapes and they order him to surrender the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor.

1974 After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus the Greek military junta collapsed and democracy was restored.

1977  End of a four day Libyan-Egyptian War.

1982 Anna Paquin, Canadian-born New Zealand actress, was born.

1982  Heavy rain caused a mudslide that destroyed  a bridge at Nagasaki, Japan, killing 299.

1990  Iraqi forces started massing on the Kuwait-Iraq border.

1998  Russell Eugene Weston Jr. burst into the United States Capitol and opened fire killing two police officers.

2000 Private Leonard Manning became New Zealand’s first combat death since the Vietnam War when he was killed in Timor-Leste.

New Zealand soldier killed  in Timor-Leste

2001 – Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the last Tsar of Bulgaria when he was a child, was sworn in as Prime Minister of Bulgaria, becoming the first monarch in history to regain political power through democratic election to a different office.

2001 Bandaranaike Airport attack was carried out by 14 Tamil Tiger commandos, all died in this attack. They destroyed 11 Aircrafts (mostly military) and damaged 15, there are no civilian casualties.

2005 Lance Armstrong won his seventh consecutive Tour de France.

2007  Libya freed all six of the Medics in the HIV trial in Libya.

2009 – The MV Arctic Sea, reportedly carrying a cargo of timber, was allegedly hijacked in the North Sea by pirates, but much speculation remains as to the actual cargo and events.

2011 – Digital switchover was completed in 44 of the 47 prefectures of Japan, with Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima television stations terminating analog broadcasting operations later as a result of the Tohoku earthquake.

2013 – A high-speed train derailed in Spain rounding a curve with an 80 km/h (50 mph) speed limit at 190 km/h (120 mph), killing 78 passengers.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

Apology for a team

July 23, 2014

Today’s general debate began with some apologies:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Hon Member: What about Annette?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, actually, not Annette. She is not really on the team, either, or Phil, because they work hard. They get out in the country, working hard. Clayton is not really on the team. To be fair, I do not think he has ever been on the team. Trevor is not so much on the team—not really on the team. But, aside from Shane, Dover, Andrew, Damien, Rino, Annette, Phil, Clayton, and Trevor, this is my team. This is my team. Well, actually, you have got to exclude Grant, to be fair, because Grant is not really on my team, or David Parker—he is not on the team—or Chris Hipkins. He is not on it. I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. That is my team. It is game on—it is game on. The Labour Party is marching to the election, united as a single team. That is what is going on. And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.

Word of the day

July 23, 2014

Arohacompassion, tenderness, sustaining love.

What’s your gender mix?

July 23, 2014

What’s your gender mix?

Your Gender Mix is:

37% Female : 63% Male

You’re the type of person who is completely comfortable representing both sides of the gender divide. You predominantly express male tendencies but you have a sizeable female part of you that is too large not to notice!
This is what happens when the questions are based on gender stereotypes and most of the time none of the options is a good fit so you have to pick the least wrong rather than the most right.



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