Tony Ryall, minister for SOEs and health, plans to retire at next election
State-owned enterprises and health minister Tony Ryall will retire from politics at this year's general election, ending a 24-year career as a politician.
The MP for Bay of Plenty will retire at this year's election after first entering Parliament in 1990 as the member for East Cape when he, Nick Smith, Roger Sowry and Bill English entered Parliament as the so-called Brat Pack of 30-something National MPs, and has increased his majority in the last three elections to almost 17,800 in 2011.
He was a minister between 1997 and 1999 in Jenny Shipley's administration, and has held the health, SOE and previously state services portfolios in John Key's government.
Ryall took up the SOE mandate after Simon Power's departure at the last election, and, in tandem with Finance Minister Bill English, has overseen the government's partial privatisation programme of power companies MightyRiverPower, Meridian Energy and the upcoming float of Genesis Energy. He also had to front for the government after coal miner Solid Energy was hit by slumping coal prices and needed a lifeline from the taxpayer.
"Across the wider SOE portfolio I've introduced an on-going series of strategic reviews," Ryall said in a statement. "These enable the Crown and the board of an entity to consider the longer term strategy and future direction of each business."
Ryall managed to keep the notoriously difficult health portfolio out of the headlines, centralising some functions such as procurement, and reducing elective surgery waiting times in the face of tight budgetary constraints.
"My more business-like approach has provided more services and better care for patients within a tight budgetary environment," he said. "I am particularly proud of achieving record elective surgery, faster cancer treatment, and more effective preventive healthcare for New Zealanders."
Ryall said he had discussed his decision with Prime Minister Key and Deputy PM English, who were disappointed with his plans, but supportive.
His decision comes amid moves to rejuvenate the National Party's line-up ahead of the 2014 general election, and joins former Cabinet Minister Phil Heatley, list MPs Cam Calder and Chris Auchinvole, Hunua MP Paul Hutchison and Local Government Minister Chris Tremain in saying they won't stand next year.