Southern MP was a 'tireless' worker

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014
John Key
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax Media
Prime Minister John Key

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Eric Roy's retirement announcement yesterday sparked mixed emotion among his comrades and competitors.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said she would like to thank Mr Roy for his long-standing contribution to the party.

"He has worked tirelessly for the people of Southland over the past two decades and has also done a great job as Deputy Speaker of the House," she said

"I respect his decision and wish him all the very best."

Local National Party member and Edendale School principal David McKenzie said Mr Roy "will go out on a high".

"He has dedicated 18 years of his life to the south."

With New Zealand's strong economic stance, particularly in the rural sector, Mr Roy could go out knowing he contributed to that, he said.

For the past two terms, Labour Party member Lesley Soper has run a staunch campaign against Mr Roy, and the news yesterday came as a shock to her.

"Eric has been a local MP for a long time. I worked with him on the regulations review committee. He is a hard worker, but I think he has taken somewhat of a back seat since he has taken on the role of deputy speaker," she said.

Ms Soper confirmed she will be the Labour candidate for Invercargill, but said a change in competition would not faze her.

"I very much made the decision that I would run on the issues and not the person. It will be a full-on campaign to win back the seat for Labour," she said.

Mr Roy's retirement has left many speculating about who will seek the National Party's Invercargill candidacy.

Mr McKenzie and another local National Party member, Sarah Dowie, both said they have considered standing.

"It is a serious decision and has serious implications - it is still only a consideration. I need to take one step at a time and in due process," Mr McKenzie said.

"They are big shoes to fill, both metaphorically and physically. He makes difficult things look easy - that was a sign of his experience."

Ms Dowie, a solicitor with Macalisters Solicitors, said she was still considering the decision.

"I want to make it clear, I am a supporter of Eric - he has done a great job - and this is something I need to discuss with my family first."

It is understood no nomination announcements will be made before the National Party annual meeting on February 17.

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