When Heather Roy was sacked as ACT deputy leader and ordered to stay home for two weeks, she marched back into Parliament to confront Rodney Hide.
Now the defiant MP is leaving – but she's doing so on her terms.
The Wellington-based list MP, 47, is retiring at the November election after nine years in Parliament.
"The time just feels right," she said yesterday. "I didn't feel it was time to leave last August. That would have been the easy thing to do. But I was worried about the state of the party."
Her demotion from consumer affairs minister and associate roles in defence and education tore the ACT party apart. In a leaked dossier, Mrs Roy described Mr Hide as bullying and menacing. A year on the rift hasn't healed.
"The big low point was last year when I was dumped. And pretty unceremoniously."
Mrs Roy said she decided to return to Parliament early when Mr Hide said she was "fragile".
"In politics they say it's not being stabbed from the back you have to worry about, it's being stabbed from the front. It was pretty torrid and tough. But it is politics.
"I can't speak for what Rodney's motivation might have been ... I'm not sure what was gained, nothing very much for the party.
"But do I bear any animosity? Not really. You just have to move on with life."
Rolling Mr Hide, in May, was the right move, she says. "I don't think he was doing well and it would have been a struggle for us to survive."
Now Mrs Roy has little do with Mr Hide – and she paints a picture of a man isolated from the caucus. "He's busy doing his ministerial stuff and we are concentrating on the election. There's not a huge amount of interaction."
Mrs Roy has a good relationship with new leader Don Brash – and she insists she is leaving of her own volition.
She agrees new parliamentary leader John Boscawen has "developed a new lease of life" since he took the job.
But she hesitates when asked about their relationship.
"When Rodney made all the accusations, John decided he would put his name forward for deputy leader, so I lost everything at once. I'm not sure that needed to happen."
Reflecting on her achievements, says she is proud of succeeding in changing a 2008 bill so that victims retain the right to present evidence at parole board hearings. Other high points are her pending voluntary student membership bill, a special education review – and her friendship with mentor Sir Roger Douglas, also retiring this year.
Mrs Roy is looking forward to spending more time with husband Duncan, 53, and their five children, aged between 15 and 23. "I think they'll enjoy having me at home a bit more. My youngest said to me, `Does that mean we can have a family outing to my soccer game?"'
The former physiotherapist is looking for a job in the social policy area. And she will campaign for ACT in the coming election.
HEATHER ROY ON:
RODNEY HIDE:"I don't think he was doing well and I think it would have been a struggle for us to survive."
JOHN BOSCAWEN:"I lost everything at once. I don't think that needed to happen ... yeah, it was [a low blow] ... and so there was a bit of a tension there."
SIR ROGER DOUGLAS:"We get on extraordinarily well and we look out for each other. Having someone of his standing showing confidence in me was a great boost."
DAVID GARRETT:"Rodney says he knew the story, the other MPs knew some of the story, but we certainly didn't know about the dead baby ... I found out about the whole business in the newspaper that morning."
DON BRASH:"I'm leaving at a time when the party's got a fresh start. It's got a strong leader. People are feeling rejuvenated."
ON JOINING THE TERRITORIAL ARMY:"The only good thing about being fired last year was I could go back to training. I don't regret [joining] for a moment. They just test you to the limit of your physical ability, but also your psychological ability."
ON BEING "ELBOWED OUT":"Being a minister is great. In opposition you are trying to stop things and as a minister you are doing things. My big regret about being moved on was that I had two big projects well under way that I couldn't finish."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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