Venkat Raman –
Two stalwarts of New Zealand Parliament, from either side of the political spectrum, are to quit the debating chamber shortly, bringing the curtain down on their individual lawmaking careers.
John Key, who was the most popular Prime Minister in the history of New Zealand, will walk out of Parliament permanently on March 22, 2017 after delivering his Valedictory Speech.
As Leader, he carried the National Party from its low state of oblivion to that of the Party with three successive record performances in as many general elections since 2008.
He currently sits on a backseat in Parliament, a rare sight for a politician whose Party is still in power and his popularity rate still the highest in the country.
David Cunliffe, a veteran Labour Party Leader, who suffered a rough weather within his own Party, succumbed to pressure and quit the top role, will also leave Parliament as he had announced more than three months ago.
He will deliver his valedictory speech on April 11, 2017.
While Mr Key’s resignation will take effect on April 14, Mr Cunliffe’s resignation will become effective on April 23, 2017.
Neither of the constituencies from which the two men were elected (Helensville and New Lynn) will face a by-election, since the resignations become effective less than six months before the general election scheduled to be held on September 23, 2017.
Mr Key has not announced his post-parliamentary career plans but Mr Cunliffe said that he would be taking up a leadership role at Stakeholder Strategies Ltd based on Queen Street in Auckland’s Central Business District.
Mr Key, who entered Parliament in 2002, said it was an absolute honour to be a Member of Parliament for Helensville, National Party Leader and Prime Minister.
“One of the great privileges of my political career and my life was to meet so many hard-working and inspiring New Zealanders. I remain as ambitious for them, and New Zealand, as the day I entered Parliament. I would like to thank all those who backed me and the National-led Government to build a stronger and more resilient country. We got New Zealand back on its feet, got people into jobs, got back into surplus, and tackled natural disasters,” he said.
Me Key said that he had ‘enormous faith’ in the leadership team of Bill English and Paula Bennett to provide the stability and continuity we need to build on that strength, while continuing to support those in need.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife Bronagh, and my children Stephie and Max. I absolutely could not have done this job without their ongoing love and support,” Mr Key added.
Mr Cunliffe also said that it was an “enormous privilege to serve as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament and I have loved nearly every minute of it.”
“In my time as MP for Titirangi from 1999-2002 and for New Lynn since then; and as a Minister of the Crown, senior Opposition spokesperson and as Leader of the Opposition, I have never forgotten the reason I came into politics and the reason that I am passionate about the Labour Party. I believed then and now that all New Zealanders should have a right to reach their potential, regardless of race, job or gender; and that all our people are of equal worth and deserve equal respect, security and opportunity,” he said.
“As a Minister, I had a chance to do things that I hope will continue to make a difference, including helping Kiwis secure faster, cheaper telecommunications; better healthcare planning, more humane and focused immigration, better jobs in our regions, and a fairer tax system,” Mr Cunliffe added.
Mr Cunliffe said that the Labour Party is in good heart, well-led by Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern, with an able team of colleagues ready to make that difference for New Zealand in government.
“I loved representing my electorate of New Lynn and its vibrant communities. I am deeply grateful to my wonderful staff and members of the awesome New Lynn Labour Electorate Committee, who have stood solidly behind me through the ups and downs. I also want to express my deep gratitude to family and friends who have sustained and enabled me to serve during my term in Parliament,” he said.
Mr Cunliffe said that he was excited about beginning a new chapter as part of the leadership team of management consulting firm Stakeholder Strategies Ltd, based in Auckland.
“I am looking forward to spending time with my sons William and Cameron, who continue to inspire me,” he said.
John Key and David Cunliffe
(Digital Painting for Indian Newslink by Creative Eye Photography)