Sarah Dowie comes out swinging in valedictory speech, calls for better treatment of women in NZ

Outgoing National MP Sarah Dowie came out swinging in her valedictory speech today, blasting the way she was treated over the Jami-Lee Ross saga and calling for a change to the way women in New Zealand are treated. 

"Never underestimate a Dowie, we're tough as nails," she told the House. 

Ms Dowie said despite ongoing media scrutiny in early 2019 she "rose above it, continued to front and show up to work". 

In January 2019, Sarah Dowie was outed as having an affair with Mr Ross. Ms Dowie was cleared by police in July, 2018 after a complaint was received over a text message sent in 2018 by Ms Dowie saying Mr Ross "deserved to die". 

"Compared with recent events, where media analysis lasted only a couple of news cycles, the speculation and rubbish continued for me for weeks on end," Ms Dowie said today. 

"The antithesis is the hypocrisy of media calling for a clean up of politicians," Ms Dowie said. "Yes, we are representatives and should take responsibility for poor behaviour, but we are not elected as angels. We too are human and make mistakes just as journalists do and have."

"But when a predator is able to manipulate the media for his agenda and the media is directly party to it, it is the media fraternity that needs to audit themselves as to their ethics and their conscious peddling of sexism and patriarchy. 

"If it takes me to be New Zealand's scarlet woman to highlight it, then so be it."

The Invercargill MP said she believed the outcome of her time as a representative was "a woman who loves to see the best in people and to help others where she can, a fierce advocate, a mother, a good friend and a lot of good fun, and a woman who is passionate about conservation and justice". 

She said many Governments had attempted to stop violence against women. 

"Violence does not stop at the physical and sexual and from what I've seen and experienced, it seems unless a woman loses her life, they are afforded very little sympathy. 

"It's that underlying patriarchal view that persists in New Zealand that stimulates this. She shouldn't have been travelling alone. She shouldn't have led him on. She should not have been wearing that skirt."

"What about 'no', she deserves justice and an environment where she feels safe to report abuse? We should build a society that enables our daughters to achieve all their hopes and dreams and to do so without judgement and guilt."

She thanked fellow MPs Brett Hudson, Stuart Smith, Matt Doocey and former MP Todd Barclay - "the self-proclaimed Breakfast Club of misfits... for being there in the dark times."

"These friendships are what restore my faith in people."

She thanked her parents for riding "a storm of epic proportions" with her. 

Currently, police are investigating former National MP Adrew Falloon amid allegations he sent inappropriate images to five women. Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway was stripped as a Minister last week and will resign at the election after having what the Prime Minister described as an "inappropriate relationship" with a junior staffer.