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The Wellingtonian - - Front Page - TRACYWATKINS

The mother fig­ure of the Labour cau­cus, An­nette King, has bowed out af­ter 33 years.

King leaves as one of Labour’s most recog­nis­able faces dur­ing some of the party’smost tu­mul­tuous pe­ri­ods in­clud­ing nine changes of leader and 11 elec­tions.

King was a mem­ber of the fourth Labour gov­ern­ment that trans­formed New Zealand, both eco­nom­i­cally and so­cially, un­der David Lange – and a se­nior Cab­i­net min­is­ter in the He­len Clark-led Labour gov­ern­ment.

But the Ron­go­tai elec­torate MP signed off with a spe­cial tribute to new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern: ‘‘I have a feel­ing you will lead the party for years to come and you are go­ing to be one of our most loved and ef­fec­tive lead­ers and prime min­is­ters.’’

King an­nounced her re­tire­ment af­ter mak­ing way for Ardern as deputy to for­mer leader An­drew Lit­tle but she told Par­lia­ment dur­ing her vale­dic­tory speech last night that ‘‘af­ter 15 years in Op­po­si­tion and 15 years in gov­ern­ment, it was time to go’’.

King’s farewell was at­tended by a who’s who of the Labour Party, in­clud­ing for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Michael Cullen and Auck­land mayor and for­mer Labour MP Phil Goff.

King joined Labour af­ter Nor­man Kirk led the party to vic­tory in 1972 and was a key fig­ure in both the 1984 Lange gov­ern­ment and the fifth Labour gov­ern­ment a decade later, led by Clark.

She stood for a seat in Welling­ton’s Ron­go­tai elec­torate in 1984 out of a de­ter­mi­na­tion to see more women in Par­lia­ment. ‘‘We were sick of be­ing the tea ladies. We wanted to make pol­icy and make de­ci­sions.’’

Women made up only 8 per cent of MPS be­fore that elec­tion – it rose to 15 per cent on elec­tion night.

But, decades on, women make up only 31 per cent of MPS. ‘‘That is not good enough. All po­lit­i­cal par­ties need to com­mit to mak­ing this place truly a house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives,’’ King said.

‘‘Women have waited long enough ... it is time for us to lead once again on women’s is­sues.’’

King also con­fessed some lesser known facts about her time in Par­lia­ment – in­clud­ing be­ing dis­patched to Paris as a ju­nior un­der-sec­re­tary to mend re­la­tions over the Rain­bowwar­rior bomb­ing.

She was also dis­patched on an equally del­i­cate mis­sion by Clark – to tell the late Maori Af­fairs min­is­ter, Parekura Horo­mia, that he had to lose weight.

Re­tir­ing MP An­nette King told Par­lia­ment last week that ‘‘af­ter 15 years in op­po­si­tion and 15 years in gov­ern­ment, it was time for me to go’’. The Welling­ton politi­cian’s vale­dic­tory speech was at­tended by a who’s who of the Labour Party, in­clud­ing new pa

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