Lees-Galloway bows out of politics, apologises for affair

Sacked Cabinet minister Iain Lees-Galloway has apologised to his family for the "trauma" and "humiliation" they experienced as the result of his affair with a former staffer.

"The trauma they have experienced has been excruciating," he said in his valedictory speech to Parliament this afternoon.

Lees-Galloway was sacked from Cabinet by Prime Minister Ardern two weeks ago, after he admitted to an extramarital affair with a former staffer.

His position as a minister was no longer tenable, according to Ardern, given his Workplace Relations responsibilities.

Lees-Galloway is one of five MPs giving their farewell speeches to Parliament today - the others are Labour MP Raymond Huo, the Greens' Gareth Hughes and former ministers Clare Curran and Ruth Dyson.

In today's speech, Lees-Galloway admitted that the relationship with the staffer was not appropriate, and acknowledged the power imbalanced involved.

Lees-Galloway spoke of the "dehumanising trauma" that he, and his family, experienced after he said they were used for "headlines and clickbait".

Immigration Minister Iain Lees Galloway. Photo: RNZ
Outgoing Minister Iain Lees Galloway. Photo: RNZ

"I am sorry for the hurt and humiliation I have inflicted on my family and for the direct impact my actions have had on so many others."

 

But he said his family were "tough cookies": "We will come out of this stronger, together".

Lees-Galloway was critical of the media, who he said thought it was appropriate to publish images of his house when his family was "at their most vulnerable".

When he looked back at his life, it would be divided into two periods – before 2020, and after 2020.

He said it has been a rough year: "There was the near-end of our marriage, the death of my father and now the end of my political career. We even had to put the dog to sleep a few weeks ago."

Praise for PM

Less-Galloway said this term of Government will be remembered for the kindness and compassion of New Zealanders and the leadership of Ardern.

Examples of this, he said, were leading New Zealand through the Christchurch terror attack, the eruption of Whakaari/White Island and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"At the beginning of the term I would never have guessed that I would be the Immigration Minister who closed the border," he said.

"I mean, I knew we were in coalition with NZ First, but it still never crossed my mind."

He said some of his greatest achievements as a minister was putting in place legislation, which saw the extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks, and increasing the refugee quota.

He was also proud of his work around temporary work visas.

But he also spoke of the difficulties trying to push through the Employment Relations Amendment bill, which was – at times – held up by NZ First.

"If stakeholder relationships can be hard to manage, they've got nothing on coalition relationships."

Lees-Galloway also said advocating for Palmerston North – his electorate – had been one of the most rewarding parts of his job.

 

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