Liz Gordon Announces She Will Stand Again
Liz Gordon Announces She Will Stand Again For Parliament
22 May 2002
Alliance MP Liz Gordon today announced that she had decided to stand again for the Alliance at the year's general election. An abridged version of her speech in Parliament's general debate follows.
"A number of Alliance MPs have declined Jim Anderton's offer to ride on his coat-tails to a new political home after the next election. For this decision we have received some wonderful support from New Zealanders. Everyone loves a politician who shows a shred of decency or a spark of principle.
"Nevertheless, the general opinion of us is that we are nice but doomed to defeat, ethical but headed for electoral oblivion, principled but pitiable.
"It is far too early to throw the Alliance into the dustbins of history. Over the past month a new political star has been rising who has created enormous warmth and support, even from many people not traditionally Alliance voters.
"Laila Harre was likened this week to a Lladro figurine for her patient forbearance in this House, although my experience is that unlike a porcelain figure she can talk the hind legs off a donkey.
"Laila was the secret weapon the Jim Anderton kept largely in the closet, except on paid parental leave issues. She has variously been described as a brain on two legs, a role model for young working mothers and a dangerous revolutionary.
"To me, she is two things. The new face of the Alliance and, that rarity in parliament, my dear and trustworthy friend.
"I have been considering my own political future for a while. I hate the bar-room brawl politics practiced in parliament and magnified in the media, and detest the reputation we politicians have as a result.
"As an MP in a small party I have envied National and Labour for their safe seats, the networks of power and influence and the assurance that many of their members will be returned to this House, no matter what happens.
"The small parties in this House are crucial to MMP and to democracy, but exist under great pressure, even in Opposition but more so in Government. We have to fight twice or three times as hard for every point, with only half as much chance as winning.
"So politics is tough and often nasty, generally thankless and sometimes downright evil. But it is the only game in town, the only course to influence a better future for New Zealanders. This is why, despite everything, I wish to announce today that I will be standing for the Alliance at the election, that I will put my name in the hat to contest Christchurch Central and that I will fly the South Island flag back into Parliament for the Alliance at the next election.
"Who apart from the Alliance will have a positive programme to overcome the huge inequalities that continue to cripple this nation and cause the alienation that leads to crime, mental illness, ignorance, illiteracy, violence, hopelessness and despair?
"In 1990 there were fewer than 95,000 families on the Domestic Purposes Benefit and we spent 1.6% of GDP on them. Last year that figure topped 110,000 but our expenditure on these, our poorest families, was only 1.3% of GPD. No wonder our social agencies, schools and health systems are bowing under the weight of poverty-related problems!
"The politics of inequality has impoverished our children, and in doing so has endangered our future as a nation. The Alliance will campaign on a fair tax system, free health care and education, more help for families, a fair working environment and a more equal society. We will put ourselves up as the only choice on the left, to engage in the critical political and intellectual debates needed on policies to overcome poverty and deprivation in our nation.
"I am looking forward to being part of that campaign and to being back here, with reinforcements, after the election."