31 Jul 2014

Fashion features as MPs farewelled

10:34 pm on 31 July 2014

The 50th parliament sits for the last time on Thursday and for some MPs it marks the end of a political career.

Long-standing MP Tony Ryall is farewelled by his National Party colleagues

Long-standing MP Tony Ryall who is leaving parliament is farewelled by his National Party colleagues Photo: RNZ / Kate Gudsell

Six long-standing MPs farewelled the House on Wednesday night.

The 24-year National Party veteran and Bay of Plenty MP Tony Ryall had almost a full house for his departing speech. His flair for fashion was highlighted by many of his colleagues, who opted to sport eccentric tie-and-shirt combinations in homage to the outgoing Minister of Health.

Phil Heatley.

Phil Heatley. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

Tony Ryall is well-known for his clashing shirt and tie combinations, and there is even a Facebook page dedicated to it. On Wednesday he paid tribute to his colleagues for making an effort.

"And I have to tell, I think they're all looking absolutely fantastic this evening," he said.

Mr Ryall's valedictory speech was warm and light-hearted. He spoke of being a young know-it-all MP when he first entered Parliament in 1990 but said he ended up in the best job in Parliament as Minister of Health.

"You work with quality people everyday who are dedicated to the welfare of New Zealander's and I wake up most mornings and I turn to my wife and say 'phew, imagine being Minister of Education'."

Shane Ardern

Shane Ardern Photo: National Party

Former Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley spoke in his valedictory speech of being accused of murdering the penguin Happy Feet.

He said his favourite Question Time in 15 years in Parliament was when Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said the fishing industry was responsible for the death of the emperor penguin after it was rehabilitated in New Zealand.

Mr Heatley said his official had been tracking the penguin by GPS to make sure it did not run across a fishing fleet.

"I was happily able to, in the House that day, when he accused me of the murder, to declare to this chamber that the fishing industry was innocent. Happy Feet had quite simply became a Happy Meal."

Eric Roy.


Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern, who famously drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to protest a proposed fart tax, told the House he would do it all again.

"I was happy to become known as the tractor man. All I'm going to say is - the tax didn't happen, hasn't happened, and shouldn't happen.

"And if anyone thinks I was dangerous then, be warned. I will be a lot worse when I'm not constrained by Parliamentary considerations. And the old Fergie is still around."

Invercargill MP Eric Roy told MPs about his brush with death when he was diagnosed with an aggressive lymph cancer and told he had a 20-percent chance of getting through it.

Ross Robertson

Ross Robertson Photo: Labour Party

He said a day after being diagnosed he had the most surreal conversation of his life with cabinet minister Murray McCully. Mr McCully phoned and asked him to give a speech for him in Invercargill because he had a cold.

Mr Roy replied: "I'm sorry to hear about your cold, but I'm dying of cancer."

The Manukau East Labour MP, Ross Robertson, spoke of his four terms as assistant speaker, and said every MP should be given a day in that chair.

"Not only would behaviour be better, but also debate. While in the chair I've been privileged to hear some great speeches, but I've also listened to some rubbish".

National's Hunua MP Paul Hutchison spoke of his contribution to science and healthcare, in his final speech to Parliament.

Paul Hutchison

Paul Hutchison Photo: National Party

Dr Hutchison said he helped bring about some modest but profoundly important changes for science by introducing Sir Peter Gluckman to Prime Minister John Key in his home, paving the way for Sir Peter's later appointment as John Key's chief science advisor.

He said the Government had picked up on some of the recommendations from the four inquiries he initiated as head of Parliament's Health Committee.

The Parliamentary term ended on Thursday night when the House rose for the 20 September election.

The Speaker David Carter announced that the Clerk of the House, Mary Harris, would be retiring and paid tribute to her.

If he returns as Speaker, Mr Carter said he has three aims for the next Parliament: to modernise the Parliamentary prayer, change the way Parliament uses Maori protocols, and make rules about MPs taking photos while they are in the House.