Thanks a million Ruth

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 pm, March 5th, 2019 - 23 comments
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Ruth Dyson, in my opinion up in the top rank of great Labour women, has announced she will leave Parliament at the end of this term. Typically in advance and typically without fanfare. Her contribution to Labour and to the less fortunate in our country has been huge.

I first met Ruth when she was Fran Wilde’s Executive Assistant in the midst of the Homosexual Law Reform campaign in 1986. It was a nasty sometimes brutish campaign, but Ruth’s courage was never in doubt.

In 1988 Ruth stood for Labour Party President after Rex Jones had served the year he promised Margaret Wilson. David Lange had repudiated Roger Douglas’ flat tax, and the Cabinet, caucus and party were badly split. Previous President Jim Anderton, by then an MP, was the other candidate.

The battle was bitterly fought, and there too Ruth demonstrated her steely resolve to put Party over personality. I was with the Engineers Union at the time, and we supported Ruth, almost alone among the party unions. Speaking for myself, it was my view that Jim Anderton’s election would have prompted a catastrophic split of the sort that the British and Australian Labour Parties suffered and which kept them out of office for decades. No Rogergnome, Ruth stood for dialogue, held the party together  through difficult times,and led the later policy process changes.

As an aside, it is one of history’s delightful ironies that Jim Anderton later ended up as Deputy Prime Minister in coalition with Labour, representing as its single member the appropriately named solipsistic Jim Anderton Progressive party.

Ruth entered Parliament in 1993 winning the seat of Lyttelton, not one of the easiest. She  actively supported Helen Clark’s accession to the leadership over Mike Moore, another occasion that saw a less than admirable backlash from some.

When Labour entered government Ruth became Minister of Disability Issues and without a doubt she was the best minister this portfolio has ever had. The disabled community miss her.

When Labour went into opposition in 2008, successive leaders relegated her to the back bench, in my opinion a mistake. This has showed up in the present government, which started out very short of ministerial experience. Typically however, Ruth’s experience is proving invaluable as the Chief Whip.

Also it is as a local MP for Port Hills that Ruth’s persistence, determination and thoughtfulness have shone in the aftermath of the earthquakes. So many people have benefited from her support that she could remain the MP for Port Hills as long as she draws breath.

She’s chosen to go, she goes with our thanks, and we look forward to her next contribution. It will be significant.


23 comments on “Thanks a million Ruth”

  1. Blazer 1

    a serial non performer best remembered for her E.B.A charge..stunning hypocrisy.

    File under FU.

  2. Drowsy M. Kram 2

    As an aside, it is one of history’s delightful ironies that Jim Anderton later ended up as Deputy Prime Minister [1999 – 2002, for the most part as an Alliance party MP] in coalition with Labour, representing as its single member the appropriately named solipsistic Jim Anderton Progressive party [renamed after its founder in 2005].”

    Thanks for the post on Ruth Dyson.

  3. patricia bremner 3

    Thank you Ruth for the NZ sign language becoming the third official language.
    When I see the chap signing away next to the PM I have to give you a nod. ‘Well done’

  4. tc 4

    Good to see this post crediting her contributions over the tenure and it’s a classy way to exit.

    Wasn’t she doing a blinglish and got caught out then demoted by Helen. Her and Hobbs IIRC ? Before it become known as double diptoning.

  5. Rosemary McDonald 5

    I was hoping that given her long involvement with disability issues she would have spent her last term in Parliament sorting out the steaming pie of crap that is Funded Family Care.

    Since she was part of the government that was well aware it was a Human Rights Act issue and that the Government could face claims in late 2001.

    “On this last point, you may be interested to know that I have set up an inter-departmental group to review the government’s policy regarding families who apply to be paid caregivers for family members.

    Two things prompted me to do this – the expiry of the government’s exemption under Section 151 of the Human Rights Act at the end of 2001, and the recent Complaints Review Tribunal decision regarding Allan and Gene Hill’s complaint against the IHC and Health Funding Authority.

    As you are no doubt aware, the tribunal’s decision acknowledged the rights of family members, including parents, to apply to be paid caregivers for one or more of their family. ”

    And did nothing of any great moment to rectify an injustice.

    And oh the irony Dyson lamenting the disparity between ACC and MOH….ACC has paid family carers for decades and the Government in 2001 could have, at the very least, allowed that one point of parity between the two.

    Just left us to the mercy of the Tribunal and Courts process and the opprobrium of the Ministry of Health and Crown Law.

    And she seemed to be aware there was the possibility of a response such as the one National delivered in May 2013. (or so it seemed when I spoke with her in February the same year.)

    Some of you may remember the Part 4 amendment to the Public Health and Disability Act that National rammed through in response to losing the case in the Appeal Court.

    The disgusting piece of legislative work that Labour promised to repeal in their 2017 campaign and has yet done nothing about. Other than set up another bloody advisory group.

    Dyson would have been the perfect MP to lead that work…unlike others she does actually know quite a bit about the matter.

    At the very least Ruth….can you please get the Mystery of Health to reveal the redacted sections of the 2013 Regulatory Impact Statement that accompanied the Part 4 amendment?

    You know…open and transparent government and all that.

    • Chris 5.1

      “Just left us to the mercy of the Tribunal and Courts process and the opprobrium of the Ministry of Health and Crown Law.”

      Yes, sickening behaviour from Dyson. Reminds of when some other dipshit Labour MP cried “we won” after the result of the sleeopover case was announced – a case that began when Labour was in government. And if it hadn’t been for the strong advocacy of the disability sector led by Robert Martin and others we’d still have an unratified UNCRPD. I’m afraid Dyson’s legacy isn’t anything to write home about.

      • Rosemary McDonald 5.1.1

        But, but…..

        “When Labour entered government Ruth became Minister of Disability Issues and without a doubt she was the best minister this portfolio has ever had. The disabled community miss her.”

        Funny isn’t it? There’s the fiction, and then there’s the fact.

        However, having said that I still believe that Dyson should have been given the task of sorting out the vast quantities of shit swirling around the whole MOH:DSS set up, and especially around the paying of family who provide the care that the MOH:DSS eligible person has been assessed as needing.

        Not only so she can have a shot at redemption but because I really do believe she is the only current MP who actually has a reasonable grasp of the minutiae.

  6. A very thoughtful valedictory for a hard working MP. I’ve known Ruth for a good few years and door knocked for her around Woolston when I lived there twenty years ago.

    Ruth has been a terrific electorate MP, and has built up a formidable network of contacts in Christchurch which has meant she’s been able to help her constituents, even when in opposition. This has meant she is well trusted across the city and the many boundary and name changes that have significantly altered the electorate she originally won have not affected her support amongst voters.

    As befits a Labour MP representing an area with significant manufacturing and logistical industries and a high percentage of working class residents, Ruth has always been a union supporter. She has championed progressive changes to employment law and health and safety legislation in Parliament.

    Indeed, the last time we spoke, we discussed the difficulties migrant workers face when trying to leave exploitative companies where the boss holds the whip card of being the sponsor into the country. I hope she may be able to do something about that anomaly in her remaining time in Parliament.

  7. mosa 7

    I remember 1988 and the massive upheaval in the Labour party at that time.
    Ruth got a lot of publicity and watching her interviewed i liked her clarity , toughness , and her honesty.
    Seeing her on television my old uncle who was an avowed communist and excellent judge of character watched her and exclaimed ” that woman is rock solid and honest ”
    She has made a important contribution to her electorate and her party during a tumultuous period that is still being felt.
    She was the best MP to have during the recent disaster in Christchurch.
    She would have made an excellent speaker IMHO.

  8. Stuart Munro. 8

    I remember her as one of a number of folk handling the Karelrybflot debacle in Lyttleton. Basically she was one of several Labour folk who got gamed by Grinevich and failed to progress the issues of Russian slave ships, which is why we still have them here today.

  9. joe90 9

    My SO rated Dyson during her tenure at Social Development as a minister with an actual clue about the issues confronting children and families in trouble and the folk working to help them.

    • tc 9.1

      Sad she’s not at that level but then labours been good at losing experienced capable people who just seem to tire of the game and move on.

      Seeing people like Chauvel and cunliffe move on whilst Nash, mallard and others remain having seen them off isn’t progressive.

  10. Mixed feelings about Dyson. Heard conflicting reports. And there’s no way anyone can compare to Jim Anderton and his tireless campaign against neo liberalism . Both Anderton and Peters deserve far more credit than they get for that.

    • Tuppence Shrewsbury 10.1

      couldn’t you take this to open mike? Dyson was not only a cabinet minister, she was an extremely popular electorate MP.

      But because your champ opposed her once, a tribute post becomes an opportunity to knock. typical internet progressive, no class

      • WILD KATIPO 10.1.1

        Soooo… because someone disagrees , they should remain silent and be shuffled off to ‘open mike’.

        Maybe shutting someone down displays even more lack of class.

        And if Roger Douglas or Ruth Richardson was the object of discussion it would be OK to comment then , huh?

        OK then.

        • Tuppence Shrewsbury

          In these cases yes. Ruth’s departure leaves a massive hole in Christchurch. Her work in the port hills particularly post earthquake was exemplary, a shining example of what electorate mps can achieve..

          I don’t agree with her policitcs, or Jim Anderson’s, but whose better can be taken to a more appropriate place.

  11. Heather Grimwood 11

    Thank you hugely Mike for your warm comments re Ruth, dependable, sincere, insightful, hardworking , non-flamboyant not self-seeking.
    It is plain to see the motivation of sundry detractors above.
    I wish Ruth well as she completes her dedication to our less fortunate citizens.

  12. Cinny 12

    Ruth, thanks for everything you’ve done to help the people of NZ.

    On a more personal note, thank you for being a voice re domestic violence in NZ.

    All the best beautiful lady, much love to you and yours.

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