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Heather Roy: Partially Worn - Serviceable (PWS)

Partially Worn - Serviceable (PWS)

Hon Heather Roy, ACT Deputy Leader

December 19 2008

My new role as Associate Minister of defence has obvious implications for my 'other life' as a Territorial Force Army engineer.

While MPs that are not members of Cabinet - my portfolios are all outside of Cabinet - can serve in the Reserves, the potential conflict of interest for me is obvious.

Consequently I have declared myself, in military terms, 'PWS' and transferred to the Non-Active reserve for three years. This means I am not out of the Army, but neither am I required to do any training. I will re-assess the situation after the next election.

Joining the TF was one of the most significant and rewarding undertakings of my life. I have learned many skills, learned much about myself and made friends from every walk of life. It is with a tinge of sadness that my political 'promotion' has meant putting that part of my life on hold - but that's what choices are all about.

The upside is that I will get to see a wider range of defence force activity as part of my Ministerial duties - and the units I visit can rest assured that the Minister is, at least, house-trained and won't be trip-tropping around the tussock in a skirt and heels.

The Year That Was

Once again it's time to turn one's mind to Christmas gifts. A look back on the past year should be able to provide some inspiration for a few of them, politically speaking.

ACT and its supporters have already received an early Christmas gift on election night, returning to Parliament with five MPs - two of whom are now Ministers of the Crown. ACT is particularly pleased with the Confidence & Supply Agreement we have with the National Government, and all that remains is for the provisions of the agreement to be implemented.

A big bouquet of flowers each for the Rt Hon Helen Clark and the Hon Michael Cullen who, following Labour's loss in the General Election, stepped down from their roles as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Although we may have been on opposite sides of many issues, there is no denying that Miss Clark and Dr Cullen were committed to serving New Zealand and New Zealanders, and their many years of hard work will not be soon forgotten.

A new pair of running shoes should prove the ideal gift for new Speaker of the House Dr Hon Lockwood Smith who broke custom by taking the Speaker's chair with more enthusiasm than is conventional. According to the age-old tradition, new Speakers have to be 'dragged' reluctantly up to take the Chair. Dr Smith, however, needed no such encouragement and raced to the Chair with the élan of an Olympic sprinter. He has made it clear that he expects debate in the House to be robust, but respectful.

New Labour Leader Phil Goff said on Radio New Zealand in August that I would have to eat my hat because a sale of the de-commissioned Skyhawks was imminent. It is clear now that it is Mr Goff, not I, who should be eating his hat given that the Skyhawks are still sitting outside at Woodbourne Airforce Base. Mr Goff's hat could be a baseball cap from 75 Squadron baseball cap (the first New Zealand Skyhawk squadron), 2 Squadron (New Zealand's last Skyhawk squadron, pulled out early from Nowra, NSW), or 14 Squadron (Aermacchis) - the choice is his.

For the really hard to buy for, alcohol is often a good staple gift over the festive season - a fact obviously not lost on some Labour researchers this week. A number of Labour staffers are now in the gun for attempting to pilfer wine from the Parliamentary Press Gallery Christmas Party - possibly an attempt to cut down on Christmas shopping costs in the midst of a recession of Labour's own making?

Sometimes the smallest gifts are of the most value. Kiwis no longer need to worry that they won't be able to use conventional lightbulbs - with the National Government this week cancelling the phase-in of compulsory eco bulbs. We always thought this was ridiculous and, in this area at least, the Nanny State is the loser. As is right and proper, choice s the winner.

Season's Greetings

It's been a long and hectic year and, as such, Heather Roy's Diary will be taking a break in the next month as I enjoy some much-needed time with my family over the Christmas and New Year period. The Diary will resume in early February. I would like to wish all readers and their families a safe and pleasant holiday season, with best wishes for the New Year.

ENDS

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