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Chris Carter to bow out with final speech

Tue 6 Sep 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Chris Carter is about to leave NZ Chris Carter will fire his parting shots at Parliament late this afternoon when he delivers his valedictory speech before leaving to take up his new anti-corruption post with the UN in Afghanistan. After 15 years as an MP the 59-year-old will bow out from New Zealand politics, as an independent MP, after being thrown out of Labour last year when he sent letters to journalists undermining the leadership of Phil Goff. It followed a period of intense scrutiny over his spending of taxpayer dollars on overseas travel and expenses. Ahead of today's farewell Carter has penned a lengthy final newsletter to his friends and supporters, where he looks back on his career and lists his proudest achievements. Among them is being the first MP to openly acknowledge being gay. “As a former teacher I knew that gay and lesbian teenagers faced huge amounts of prejudice and had few affirming messages or positive role models,” he says. “By being open and honest about my sexuality, and joined soon after by my industrious gay Labour colleague Tim Barnett and my remarkable transsexual colleague Georgina Beyer, we broke a glass ceiling,” Carter continues. “Today having gay and lesbian MPs is no big deal and thank goodness for that. In 2007 I met a beautiful young Māori woman in Melbourne who told me, as a 15-year-old, she had been seriously contemplating suicide because of her sexuality. I had come to her school prize giving at Waitakere College, and my presence, she said, convinced her that being gay was not a barrier to personal success. She told me tearfully that I had saved her life. That story alone made it all worthwhile.” Carter pays tribute to his partner of 38 years Peter Kaiser, saying nothing he has achieved in his life would be possible without Kaiser's support and energy. “In the good times and the bad he was always there for me and for the Labour Party. To be honest, for 15 years Te Atatu and the Labour Party actually had two MPs for the price of one! I know Peter is very happy that I am leaving politics, but I will always be indebted to his support and contribution during the time that I have been a politician.” Overall Carter says the past year has not been easy, but now is the time to look forward and not back. “I am and will always be a Labour person. I still consider myself a Labour MP and I still believe passionately in social democracy and that the Labour Party has the best philosophy for ensuring social justice and providing effective pathways to realising individual potential. The state should and must play a positive role in providing services and creating opportunity for all.” Chris Carter's valedictory speech will be delivered at 5.45PM. It will be streamed live here and available later here    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 6th September 2011 - 1:27pm

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