Health Minister Tony Ryall will retire from politics at the
next election to take up employment in the private sector.
Mr Ryall, 49, has been a key figure in the National
Government and is widely credited for a stable watch over the
health portfolio, introducing changes without causing
His retirement announcement was unexpected, and he will
remain in Cabinet until the election. He said it was the
right time for him to leave, but he had "greatly enjoyed"
being in Parliament.
"The Government is doing very well and the National Party is
in great heart."
He said he had told the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime
Minister Bill English, who were "disappointed but
He said he was proud of his work as Health Minister,
especially in the areas of elective surgery, faster cancer
treatment, and preventive health care.
"Our health services have been transformed with a great
effort by clinicians and motivated teams across the sector ..
My more business-like approach has provided more services and
better care for patients within a tight budgetary
He said that as State Owned Enterprises Minister, he had also
enjoyed working with Mr English to oversee the Government
share offer programme, and working on the strategies to cap
public service staff.
"There is still a lot of work to do in both my portfolios and
I appreciate the Prime Minister allowing me to continue my
work in Cabinet until the next election."
Mr Ryall entered Parliament as MP for East Cape in 1990, aged
26. He was one of the four young ministers in National's
so-called 'Brat Pack' of the late 1990s, along with Bill
English, Nick Smith and Roger Sowry. He is now the MP for Bay
of Plenty. He is renowned around Parliament for his
flamboyant shirt and tie combinations.
He was first made a minister under the Jenny Shipley National
Government in 1997, holding the portfolios of Justice, State
Owned Enterprises, Local Government, Youth Affairs and
Housing New Zealand Ltd.
He is married with two children.
National Party President Peter Goodfellow said Mr Ryall would
leave a legacy few could match.
"Tony will leave at this election with the respect and
admiration of colleagues and his opponents alike. I wish him
and his family well for whatever new opportunities lie
Mr Goodfellow also paid tribute to Mr Ryall for building up
an 18,000 vote majority in the Bay of Plenty electorate,
saying it had the second highest party membership of any
Northland is the highest.
Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King was less glowing
about Mr Ryall's efforts in the health portfolio, giving him
an "A for politics, but a 'barely achieved' for health."
She said his greatest work had been in closing down critics
and the bad news in the health portfolio.
"He has been too controlling, divisive and created a climate
of fear. He should go now and let someone else try to repair
the damage in relationships."
She said a recent poll of doctors showed Dr Ryall was
"Minister of Health is a tough job so I understand him
leaving, although I'd like the job back!"
- by Claire Trevett, NZ Herald