Eric Roy to quit politics after two decades

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014

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Two decades after he was first elected to Parliament, MP Eric Roy has announced he will not stand for re-election at the end of this year.

First elected in 1993, Mr Roy said he had been humbled and privileged to serve Southland.

"People put their trust in you every three years to represent their views and voices, in a way that has been my humble driver," he said.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1993, as MP for Awarua When seat was dissolved forthe 1996 election he became a National Party list member, , serving electorates in the lower South Island.

In 2002 he contested the Invercargill seat, but was narrowly beaten by Labour's Mark Peck.

Mr Peck announced he would not stand for re-election after his second term. , and with 49.51 per cent of the vote, Mr Roy was elected Invercargill MP, a position he has maintained for three terms.

He said politics was always in his blood and being an agent of change was just how he was "wired".

"But in politics you have to remember one thing: you will agree with about 80 per cent of anything, 10 per cent you can be persuaded on and 10 per cent you don't agree with - that's the basic rule when you are in any party, otherwise you will stand for nothing," he said.

In 1994, Mr Roy became a junior whip. His skill as a communicator often earned him the respect of both parties when critical decisions about policies and legislation needed to be resolved.

"I have acted as a conduit between the two parties, and I have always played that very close to my chest," he said.

It was those skills that led Prime Minister John Key to appoint Mr Roy Deputy Speaker of the House, a position Mr Roy said he both loved and loathed. "My greatest skill is as a communicator, and one of the frustrations I have found as Deputy Speaker is you don't speak in the House," he said.

Despite that, Mr Roy said he was sad not to have been named Speaker, but realised his position in Mr Key's caucus was strategic.

"I have been taken out of that role [communicator] and that has been an adjustment I have had to make," he said.

Mr Roy plans to finish writing a book - a collection of experiences compiled into an ode to his 13 grandchildren.

He said he still had a year to serve and was looking forward to the challenges that would bring.

The National Party has not yet announced when it will take nominations for the general election.

Mr Roy said he would not be involved in finding his replacement.

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- The Southland Times

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