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'I am sorry for the hurt and humiliation' - Sacked minister Iain Lees-Galloway addresses family in valedictory speech

Outgoing Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway has apologised to his family in his valedictory speech after being sacked as a minister, calling 2020 "a rough year". 

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The Labour MP was stood down after an inappropriate affair with a staffer. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Lees-Galloway was stripped of his ministerial portfolios after having an inappropriate relationship with a staffer who worked in one of his agencies. He decided to resign at election 2020 after the affair was made public by the Prime Minister last month. 

"I apologise to my family. For all they have experienced has been excruciating.

"First there was the trauma of our own private business. Then there was the duhumanising trauma of being used for headlines and clickbait by an industry that somehow thought it was appropriate to publish images of their house when they were at their most vulnerable.

"Every thoughtless and uninformed commentary cuts at the heart of political families. I am sorry for the hurt and humiliation I have inflicted on my family and for the direct impact of my actions on so many others."

He said his family is "incredible, they are tough cookies", adding they would "come out of this stronger". 

"I suspect when I look back on my life it will divide into two periods. Before 2020 and after 2020 - 2020 has been an extraordinary year for all of us," Mr Lees-Galloway said. 

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It was Mr Galloway’s first speech since his inappropriate relationship with a staff member was revealed. Source: 1 NEWS

"For my family and me it hasn’t just been about the incredible effort to responding to Covid-19 and the lockdown. There was the near-end of our marriage, the death of my father, and the end of my political career. We even had to put the dog to sleep a few weeks ago.

"It’s been a rough year."

He said he was not preparing to deliver his valedictory speech two weeks ago.

"But here I am, ready and happy to say goodbye," he added. "I am leaving Parliament because I can no longer serve as a minister. I can no longer serve as a minister because some of my actions have not been congruent with the expectations we should all have of ministers or anyone in a position of power."

I was not appropriate to have a relationship with a staff member in a department that reported to me who worked directly with my office. We must recognise not only the imbalance of power involved and the impact such a relationship can have on a workplace.  

"That’s why I have to go. Just because it was tolerated in the past, doesn’t mean it ought to be in 2020."

Mr Lees-Galloway also spoke of his time in Parliament and mentioned the moves to increase paid parental leave and the refugee quota, as well as scrapping the family-link refugee policy that was placed just on refugees from Africa and the Middle East. 

“We got rid of the unjustifiable discrimination that meant almost no refugees from Africa and the Middle East were able to resettle in New Zealand," Mr Lees-Galloway said. 

He called the work in Parliament "incredibly rewarding, making a real difference in people's lives". 

"That's what drives us all, no matter what party we're from. That's why we keep coming back even though it often feels like madness. While I'm happy to be going, I'm also incredibly happy to have been here."

Among the other outgoing MPs giving valedictory speeches this evening were Green Party's Gareth Hughes and Labour's Clare Curran.  

Mr Hughes spoke of being unable to hold an inquiry into forced adoption. 

"I believe New Zealand's lack of inquiry and apology and counselling support for the tens of thousands of mothers and children does slow the healing," he said. 

"Across my career, I've had failures and setbacks along the way, but I've always tried to approach this job positively."

Ms Curran said it was "with pain and relief" that she stood to do her valedictory. 

"It is also with a continued sense of wonder and awareness at the sheer privilege of having this opportunity."