Labour and National MPs hope Nick Smith makes valedictory speech

MPs from both sides of the House want retiring National MP Nick Smith to go out on a high, saying he deserves it after more than 30 years in Parliament. 

Dr Smith abruptly announced his retirement earlier this week, after reportedly being told details of an investigation into an incident at his office were going to be made public on Tuesday.

While that report never emerged, Newsroom on Friday said it understood the incident was an altercation between Dr Smith and a National Party staff member in July last year - around the same time the party's leadership changed for the second time in a matter of months, two senior MPs quit and a backbencher resigned.

Dr Smith reportedly lost his temper, swearing at the "young male staffer". Newsroom said the differences were resolved, with both apologising, and the staffer lost their job after National's devastating defeat at the election later that  year. 

The incident was supposedly recorded by another staff member, sparking an investigation by Parliamentary Service.

Dr Smith's last day as an MP will be June 10. It's not clear if he will deliver a valedictory speech, Newsroom reporting he hasn't been seen in the capital this week. 

"I hope he's not defined by this," Dr Smith's fellow National MP Simon Bridges told The AM Show on Friday. 

"I hope he gives a valedictory. He's had 30 years. I've had massive barnies with Nick over the years, there's a whole lot I don't agree with the guy on, but he's made a massive contribution."

Nick Smith.
Nick Smith. Photo credit: Getty Images

Dr Smith was first elected in 1990, and has been in Parliament ever since - the longest-serving of the current crop, earning him the title 'Father of the House'. He lost his electorate seat in 2020, but kept his position in Parliament as a list MP. 

"You don't want to see anyone who's given 30 years' service leave in those circumstances," said Labour's David Parker, who has often squabbled with Dr Smith over environmental matters. Both have served two separate stints as Minister for the Environment - Dr Smith from 2008 until 2012, and again from 2014 to 2017; Parker for a few months in 2007, then again from 2017 until the present day.

"Let's hope he holds his head high and gives a valedictory," said Parker.

National leader Judith Collins, who has denied orchestrating Dr Smith's departure, says she would support him if he did want to make one last speech.