Dr Cullen valedictory did not disappoint

by Jake Quinn

The audio is here and the NZPA summary is here.  Call me a fan, but sheesh the Father of the House really knows his way around a speech.

The gallery was full of old school political journos, the House was stocked with MPs and the public gallery was a who’s who of Cullen and Labour ex-staffers, public sector chief executives and Cullen family – and I was saving seats, “Oh I’m sorry Secretary of Justice but this ones taken..”

As Clark’s valedictory summed up her prime ministership with a mixture of humbly admitted yet self assured achievements, low key yet welcome praise for those who assisted her along the way and a sense of ‘i’d rather move on’ than address ‘perceived’ negatives of the 5th labour govt, Dr Cullen delivered his valedictory speech in his accustomed style. 

Others have addressed a few of the witty highlights:

To those in government, a genuine thank you for the NZPost appointment. When I attacked National last year for swallowing so many dead rats little did I think that some might see me as one of them…

…To the Greens — good luck. But loosen up a bit; saving the planet needs to sound less like punishment for our sins if it is going to succeed…

…The attorney-general does not have to be a lawyer any more than the minister of education has to be a teacher, the minister of health a doctor, or the minister of corrections a convict.

This evening Dr Cullen was never cruel – he pulled punches I am sure – and he went out like the elder statesman for which he will be remembered by all but the most partisan of opponents.  

At the post speech function in Parliament’s Grand Hall he spoke, after long time ally and close friend Annette King and Labour Party Leader Phil Goff, warmly, candidly and emotionally. He stressed, as Jason Knauf referred to yesterday, the importance of family in what can be an utterly brutal business.

Wife Anne was there rambunctiously interjecting as the former Finance and Deputy Prime Minister offered his final words – and he loved it, joking that when Ann was there he was never concerned with what we (the crowd) were thinking, but rather what would she would say next.

One thing’s for sure, watching the House won’t be the same for a while – and best of luck to the new Shadow Leader of the House, Mr Darren Hughes.