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Hon Jim Sutton retires

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage

10 July 2006 EMBARGOED 2.00PM Media Statement

Hon Jim Sutton retires
NOTE EMBARGO

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced the retirement from politics of long-serving Labour Minister and MP Jim Sutton.

On his retirement, Mr Sutton will take up the formal position of a Trade Ambassador for New Zealand and of Chair of Landcorp. These appointments take effect from 1 August.

Helen Clark said Mr Sutton has been a valued and significant figure in the Labour caucus for eighteen-and-a-half years.

“Throughout that time Jim served first the North Otago and then the South Canterbury communities as a Labour MP. He entered Parliament in 1984 as Labour MP for Waitaki, serving until 1990. He returned to Parliament in 1993 as Labour MP for Timaru.

“Jim has held a range of ministerial portfolios reflecting his background as a farmer and businessman since he first became a Minister in 1990, and then again when Labour returned to government in 1999.

“Currently Jim is Minister of State and Associate Minister for Trade Negotiations. He has held the Agriculture, Forestry, Rural Affairs, Biosecurity, and Trade Negotiations portfolios.

“Jim has been a staunch advocate for rural communities and primary industries, both within the Labour caucus and the Cabinet. A major early achievement in the term of this fifth Labour-led government was to oversee the formation of New Zealand's largest company, Fonterra, which required special government legislation. A feature of his agriculture portfolio tenure in successive Labour Governments was the emergence of sustainability as the central theme of Agriculture Policy and a highlight of this was the establishment of the successful Sustainable Farming Fund.

“Jim has been a proactive and energetic Trade Negotiations Minister. He oversaw the completion of the trade agreement with Singapore, and initiated and completed both the trade deal with Thailand and the ground-breaking P4 trade deal with Singapore, Brunei, and Chile.

“During Jim's term of office, New Zealand entered discussions on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China – with New Zealand becoming the first developed nation to start such negotiations with China. Jim has been a champion of New Zealand's trade relations with China, visiting the country many times.

“Jim's intelligence, skills, integrity, and hard work also helped maintain New Zealand’s reputation as an influential player in multilateral trade negotiations fora such as the World Trade Organisation. He has also driven the ASEAN-CER FTA talks, and FTA negotiations with Malaysia.

“Jim is one of Parliament’s most respected figures. His contribution has been significant and the government is keen to see it continue at senior levels. His appointment to chair the board of Landcorp will draw on his farming, business, and government experience.

“In the roving role as Ambassador for Trade, Jim will support the government in bilateral and regional trade negotiations. With the respect in which he is held internationally, he will be able to assist to advance New Zealand’s trade and economic interests. This initial appointment is for two years.

“I would like to thank Jim personally for the contribution he has made to the Labour Party, to Parliament, to government, and to New Zealand trade and agriculture over close to two decades in politics. He has been a much valued and highly respected colleague and he can be very proud of the record he leaves behind,” Helen Clark said.

Jim Sutton is a list MP. He will be replaced as a Labour MP by Wellington lawyer Charles Chauvel. Mr Chauvel has been a partner in the law firm, Minter Ellison. He has also chaired the New Zealand Aids Foundation, served as a board member of the Public Health Commission, and been Deputy Chair of both the New Zealand Lottery Commission and Meridian Energy. At the last election, he stood in the Ohariu-Belmont electorate, and was ranked number 44 on the Labour list.

ENDS

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