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Tolley says it is time for family

East Coast MP to retire after 34 years in local and national politics.

Retiring East Coast MP Anne Tolley says conversations with her husband Allan during the Covid-19 lockdown made them reconsider whether she should serve another parliamentary term, and put off their “bucket list” for another three years.

Mrs Tolley, the East Coast MP since 2005, announced over the weekend she would retire at the General Election on September 19.

“The family have all been very supportive over the years but are looking forward to me having more time with them,” she said.

In December Mrs Tolley, the Deputy Speaker of the House, announced she would stand in the General Election as a list party candidate only as she had ambitions to become Speaker of the House.

Then last month Mrs Tolley said she would not be returned to Parliament on current polling, although last week's 1 News Colmar Brunton poll, where National's rating increased significantly, made that less certain.

But Mrs Tolley said the time had come to put family life first.

“I have had tremendous support from my family throughout my political career which has spanned 34 years.

“My husband has lived a political widower's life, too often taking second place to the needs of my job.

“So the time has come for me to put life with him and our family first and to do the things we've talked about but struggled to fit into a busy political schedule.

“There is no greater privilege than to be trusted to represent your community in Parliament, and for 15 years the people of the East Coast electorate have given me that trust and support.

“I'm also extremely grateful to the National Party for the many amazing opportunities it has afforded me.”

Mrs Tolley first served in Parliament as a list MP from 1999 to 2002.

After several attempts to win the Napier electorate, she won East Coast in 2005 and has held the electorate since.

Mrs Tolley served as the National Party's first female whip and has held a wide range of ministerial portfolios including education, corrections, police, tertiary education, social development, youth, children and local government.

More recently Mrs Tolley has been the Deputy Speaker of the House. She was elected as the second vice-president to the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians at the 138th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in 2018.

Mrs Tolley gave the keynote address at the United Nations Development Programme's Pacific Women in Power Forum and was invited to help lead a workshop in Turkey for women's political participation, to increase their representation in Turkish Parliament

Before her parliamentary career, Mrs Tolley served on Napier City Council and Hawke's Bay Regional Council and was deputy mayor of Napier from 1989 to 1995.

Rotorua Lakes district councillor Tania Tapsell has been selected as National's East Coast candidate.

Mrs Tolley said she was confident National had the leadership and the team to win the upcoming election.

“I know our fantastic, hard-working candidate Tania Tapsell will win the East Coast seat, so it is a great time for me to step back, relaxed, knowing I leave it all in good hands.”

Election 2017: National MP Anne Tolley surrounded by supporters celebrating her return to the East Coast seat at the last election. Mrs Tolley has announced she is to retire at the September general election. File picture