OPINION: I made the decision earlier this month that I will not be seeking re-election to Parliament this year.
My 18 years as an MP representing firstly the Awarua electorate and then Invercargill via the List and then as the elected MP, has been an exciting and interesting responsibility, but I believe it is time to move on.
It has been a privilege to be part of a wider group of Southland leaders who have seen Southland grow and to achieve one of the lowest unemployment levels in the country.
I have had many memorable experiences during my time in Parliament, but the most satisfaction has come from acting as an advocate for our wonderful city and the province as a whole.
A lot of what MPs do goes unseen.
Sometimes this is because of confidentiality requirements, such as when I was involved in the negotiations between Tiwai and the Government in 2013.
Sometimes it is because people are coming to see you for deeply personal reasons - such as their immigration application, or problems they have faced with a government agency.
Sometimes, it's just not newsworthy.
All of it, however, makes a difference to someone's life, and I have always been committed to doing the best job I can for my constituents, rather than being focused on headlines.
I've tried to get out and about in the electorate as much as possible, even to the extent of walking 320km around the Invercargill electorate during the 2011 campaign to hear what people wanted from their government.
Now I have one last campaign to be part of, a year as Deputy Speaker to oversee the House, and then it is all over.
I would like to thank my very understanding wife and children for their support over the years, and all my electorate volunteers and staff for their hard work. I'd also like to thank all those constituents who voted for me and sought my help over the years.
Not long after I first became an MP, economist Tony Alexander wrote a column on Invercargill, which more or less instructed the last one to leave Invercargill to turn out the lights.
The census last year showed Southland is achieving growth, and I am sure we can look forward to Southland and Invercargill continuing to be a force that punches above its weight.
Eric Roy is MP for Invercargill.
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