The leader of the Opposition, Bill English, announced his retirement from Parliament today. His last day will be March 1st when he will make his farewell speech. Today his wife and two of his sons accompanied him as he made his announcement. He had to wipe away a tear at one stage which showed how hard this decision must have been for him. He has been in Parliament for 27 years. He became Prime Minister near the end of last year (correction: 2016) when John Key stepped down. His party, the National Party, won more seats in Parliament at the November election and he probably expected to continue as Prime Minister, but instead the Labour Party formed a coalition with New Zealand First and the Greens.
He comes from a small place called Dipton in Southland. He was a farmer, and recently, he demonstrated on TV how he could still shear the wool off a sheep. He can also run a household. He looked after his small children while his wife completed her medical degree. He and his wife have 6 children. He has been a busy family man as well as a busy man in public life.
He studied Commerce at the University of Otago and has an honours degree in English literature from Victoria University of Wellington. He worked for a while in Treasury which gave him a good understanding of the government’s financial policy.
The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said he has earned the respect of many people for his public service to New Zealand. Others have praised him for his role as Finance Minister during the Global Financial Crisis. New Zealand mostly avoided the financial problems of other countries during that period.
• to wipe away a tear (from his eye) – to be very sad, close to crying
• step down from a position – resign
• coalition – joining of 2 or 3 parties
• to run a household – to cook, clean, look after children etc
• Treasury – a government department which plans, advises, and looks after the government’s finances and tax
• GFC – Global Financial Crisis in 2008 which affected USA and many other countries.