Whatever else you say about Judith Tizard, you gotta admit she won the final round and showed some real chutzpah in announcing her political career over
You know what? Kudos to Judith Tizard for her decision not to return to parliament. She can now say she left politics on her own terms, and doing the right thing. Good on her.
She never got her valedictory speech in the House, but she got in a short one on Q+A this morning. She got a slap in against nearly everyone: The Nats don't have a plan and in supporting partial privatisation of state power companies are acting like "finance company touts", Andrew Little (she implied) and the media were bullies, Phil Goff is going to have to up his game, and anyone who mocks her political contribution forgets her work on Auckland transport and her bill baning mining north of the Kopu-Hikuai Rd on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Tizard said she was tired of those who laughed at her ministerial contribution. And it's got to be said, that bill at least was significant - it got Christine Fletcher to cross the floor, in disobedience of orders from her leaders, and normalised a 'conservation over mining' mindset that came to the fore just last year, when National had to back down on its plan to open up Schedule 4 land to the miners.
Credit where credit's due, Tizard played her hand well this past week. Commentators from Barry Soper to Bill Ralston to Brian Rudman have all been proved wrong in their predictions that she would go back to parliament as the next person on the Labour list, replacing Darren Hughes. She'll enjoy that wee victory.
And you've got to say good on her for walking away from $162,000 for just over six months work. There are many who wouldn't have, including those with a supposed commitment to smaller government.
Tizard waited until two minutes and twenty seconds into the interview with Guyon Espiner before finally revealing her decision. Hand on heart, none of us knew what she was going to say.
An old hand, she knew that the instant she'd said 'no', she was a political has-been. So she got all her defence in first and made sure she had hit her important targets.
She's right that going back would have been bad for her, the party she obviously loves, and for MMP. But I believe she genuinely went back and forth on this decision, right until the last moment. It must have been tempting to honour the MMP list system and her commitment in 2008. And take the $162,000 on offer, of course.
It's easy to knock Tizard. So much of her career seemed to be spent protecting Helen Clark's leadership, and there's plenty of criticism to be made of her luvviness and her wine and cheese approach to the Auckland ministership, for example. But there have been plenty of MPs who have achieved less than she did, including some serving now. And many who wouldn't have walked away from that kind of pay-out.
Back when the mockery of her arose during last year's Mt Albert by-election - a clear and effective National party ploy, rolled out by David Farrar, from memory - that's what Phil Goff's response should have been. He could have simply said, 'c'est la vie, she's next on the list, I'm not going to get spooked by National party spin, and if you want to have a go at her, let's go through half a dozen Nats you've never heard of'.
It was a five minute story to which Labour gave unnecessary credence. No wonder Tizard bitched at Goff that he lacked a coherent plan to win the election.
Speaking of Goff, he's said today that each of the other blokes between Tizard and Louisa Wall on the list will each "be given the opportunity to make their own decision, but it is likely that the former MP who comes back will end up being Louisa Wall, Labour’s candidate in Manurewa".
Mark Burton and Martin Gallagher have already confirmed they're happy where they are. From that statement, you can assume Mahara Okeroa and Dave Hereora both know their place, and Wall's done and dusted. Labour can now get on with being an Opposition... you'd hope. And Tizard can 'move on', as Helen Clark would have said, chuckling as she goes.
Y'know, whatever you thought of Tizard as a politician - in a career going back to the Auckland Power Board in 1973, she told me - fair dues for going out in style.
Wham, bam, thank you mam.