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John Key to leave parliament in April

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/03/2017

Former prime minister John Key will make his last speech to parliament next week.

Meanwhile, former Labour leader David Cunliffe is also leaving.

Mr Key has announced he will make his valedictory speech to the house next Wednesday, before officially resigning from parliament on April 14.

"It has been an absolute honour to serve in Parliament since 2002, as MP for Helensville, National Party leader, and prime minister," Mr Key said.

"One of the great privileges of my political career and my life was to meet so many hard-working and inspiring New Zealanders. I remain as ambitious for them, and New Zealand, as the day I entered Parliament."

He said he had confidence Prime Minister Bill English and deputy Paula Bennett would provide stability and continuity.

Mr Key resigned unexpectedly as PM in December and has not said what he plans to do after leaving, although he has taken on at least one speaking engagement.

Labour's New Lynn MP Mr Cunliffe on Wednesday morning also announced he would be making a final speech on April 11 before resigning later in the month.

"It's an enormous privilege to serve as a member of the New Zealand Parliament and I have loved nearly every minute of it," he said.

"In my time as MP for Titirangi from 1999 to 2002, as MP for New Lynn since then; and as a minister of the Crown, senior Opposition spokesperson and as leader of the opposition, I have never forgotten the reason I came into politics and the reason that I'm passionate about the Labour Party."

Mr Cunliffe will join Auckland management consulting firm Stakeholder Strategies after April 23.

By-elections will not be held in either Mr Key's Helensville seat nor Mr Cunliffe's New Lynn seat, because their resignations come less than six months out from this year's election.

By leaving at the same time, Mr Key and Mr Cunliffe will have maintained the voting balance in parliament - National loses a vote, and Labour loses a vote.

Mr Cunliffe says there's nothing wrong with that.

"I'm sure everyone is comfortable with the outcome," he told reporters.

"It's provided for in standing orders (parliament's rules) and that's the way the system is designed to work - to give MPs some opportunities to re-align their careers without the expense of a by-election."

Not everyone agrees with what the two MPs are doing.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says MPs are elected to serve three years.

"They should have discussed it with the public at the last election, and said `if anything happens here I'm going to shoot through', and they didn't," he said.

"I make an exception of David Shearer, that is a seriously important job he's doing."

Mr Shearer resigned to take up a UN peacekeeping role in South Sudan.

A by-election had to be held, which was won by Jacinda Ardern.

Labour leader Andrew Little says both MPs were "desperate" to leave.

"They (National) came to us, they asked about David Cunliffe's plans. He had plans, it fitted in with what they were doing with John Key," he said.

"In the end, I wasn't particularly fussed."

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