English's last political task mirrors first

Former prime minister Bill English speaks at the official opening of Camp Glenorchy yesterday, on the eve of his retirement from politics. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
Former prime minister Bill English speaks at the official opening of Camp Glenorchy yesterday, on the eve of his retirement from politics. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
It was perhaps fitting former prime minister Bill English spent his last official day at work in the heart of his old electorate.

After ''10,000 days'', or 28 years, Mr English officially retires from politics today.

He spent yesterday morning in Glenorchy as one of the guests of honour at the official opening of Camp Glenorchy, which aims to be New Zealand's first net zero energy camping ground.

Having started his political career in the Wallace electorate in 1990, Mr English became the Clutha-Southland MP in 1996 - a seat he held until 2014, when he became a list MP.

It was perhaps also fitting his last job in the political world was similar to his first.

He told guests yesterday his first ''public performance'' was opening the fire brigade bar in his home town, Dipton.

''The bar is still there, with a tiny plaque on the wall.''

Mr English paid tribute to philanthropists Debbi and Paul Brainerd for their vision and tenacity in turning their dream into a reality and helping reinvigorate Glenorchy, a town about the same size as Dipton.

''I hope that we can find some equivalent of the Brainerds to come and invest in our little community. Nothing has really altered there for about 40 years.

''The good news is all the houses are now full for the first time in 30 or 40 years. Hopefully, now they'll start painting them.''

Mr English later said his first task today would be moving off the parliamentary technology system, which would require him to get his own phone.

Then, he would settle into life after politics.

''I have to book my own air fares now,'' he joked.

''Everyone has to make transitions .. and I've had plenty of great advice.''

The best advice?

''Just don't rush into it.''

When it was put to Mr English he might be able to spend some time at the fire service bar in Dipton he was quick to point out a flaw in the suggestion.

''I'm not a volunteer.''

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

 

Add a Comment