VIEWS: A farewell to politics

With just over two months until the general election, my time as Dunedin’s representative is quickly coming to an end.

Last year I made the decision to retire at the coming election. While I know I’ve made the right decision, there are many aspects of the role I will miss.

Twelve years ago I first ran as the local MP for the then Dunedin North electorate, replacing Pete Hodgson. I was motivated to run to stop the growing inequalities facing New Zealanders.

Looking back, I’m proud of the work done by our Labour government to address child poverty — although of course there is still much more to do.

As a new MP in opposition, I was able to Monday-ise Waitangi and Anzac Day with the support of Parliament. This was a great opportunity to learn Parliamentary process and pass a bill against the majority Government.

As minister of health I instigated a generational review of the health system; our Government took mental health seriously for the first time investing more than $1 billion to make frontline services free and widely available; and we created the New Zealand Cancer Agency.

One thing I’m especially glad to have played a part in is securing agreement and the initial $1.3b for the new Dunedin Hospital.

In the years before 2017, it seemed no-one was willing to commit to the rebuild, let alone fund it. Thankfully, that is all now ancient history. People in the South deserve the best healthcare and the best most modern hospital in New Zealand. They are going to get it.

Together we saved Invermay; with more than 12,000 residents signing a petition to save the Mosgiel AgResearch campus.

The Dunedin-based gaming initiative, the Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE), was something I first dreamt up and worked on in opposition. It was later refined in Government and funded, and has enjoyed strong success thanks to the talented locals who drive it.

As minister of commerce, I’m proud of the work I did drafting the world-first Grocery Industry Competition Bill that is forcing the supermarket duopoly to open up their wholesale arms to would-be competitors. Kiwis deserve a fair deal at the checkout.

These few examples highlight some of the opportunities I’ve been entrusted with on your behalf. Thank you.

It has been an honour and a privilege to be elected as the local member of parliament in four successive elections.

It’s my hope that this strong Labour support will continue for my successor Hon Rachel Brooking.

I’ve known Rachel for a many years and consider her an excellent candidate to take the Dunedin seat forward. She holds strong Labour values, and has a passion and determination to fight for environmental and climate justice.

I’ll continue my role as the local MP up until election night, and can be contacted until then should you need help from me or my office.

This will be my last Star column and I want to thank all of you who have given me feedback on these columns over the years. Local representatives are only as good as the feedback they receive from their communities.