After 14 years as a Labour MP, Louisa Wall is addressing the house, maybe for the last time, in her valedictory speech. The former Manurewa representative and champion of the 2013 marriage equality bill has been a prominent figure within the Labour party despite never being made a minister.
“There are a few things I feel I need to address,” she began, wasting no time. She detailed how she was “forced out” of her Manurewa electorate in 2020, speaking of “unconstitutional actions” of the party president, Claire Szabó, and some members of the council (Labour’s governing body) in the selection process. “It is a result of that corrupt process that I’m standing to deliver my valedictory today.”
Wall has been in the media a lot this week, giving exit interviews and being candid about her reasons for resigning despite being considered one of the better-performing MPs Labour has had in many years. She told Q&A that there were “messages, probably not so subtle, that it wasn’t just that [the prime minister] didn’t want me in her cabinet. She was obviously very clear that she didn’t want me in her caucus.”
In the midst of thanking those who supported her in recent months, Wall confirmed what was widely assumed: that she didn’t necessarily want to leave. “I want to be very clear that this was not entirely my choice,” she said.
Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson, who was in the house for the speech, was the subject of criticism for his alleged response to Wall’s advocacy for marriage equality at the time of her 2013 member’s bill. “While the deputy leader of caucus at the time wanted more recognition of civil unions, I believed that advocacy for marriage equality was based on fundamental human rights, and that civil unions became a stopgap measure because it was not clear that marriage would get over the line. When I expressed this view, I was told this would be the end of my career and I would be on my own,” she told parliament.
Wall thanked MPs from across the aisle for cooperating on issues with her, and implored a movement towards more cross-party collaboration. “We need to be more kaupapa, rather than personality, driven.”
Her 15-minute speech, which aptly ended with a sporting analogy (“I left it all on the field”) was met with a standing ovation and a waiata.
In the public gallery, friends and whānau wore rainbow masks, and a few MPs on the Labour side donned rainbow colours. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern was not present.