DIARY OFA NEWBIE
Inside the new MPs’ first week
I also realise, as did the philosopher Taylor Swift, that haters gonna hate. Putting it another way, Hansard won’t be letting me rewrite verbal missteps.
Arrived at Parliament today as one of the newbie MPs, unsure what atmosphere to expect on a scale from House of Cards to Hogwarts.
Decidedly it was at the latter end, with fellow National candidates greeting each other like Harry Potter’s chums after a particularly magical school holiday.
Not the best metaphor for a gruelling campaign but you can imagine the scene.
Met various members of the Parliamentary Services team, who began to teach us about the nitty-gritty of our nation’s democracy in action. (Yes, I realise “in action” sounds dangerously like “inaction”.)
But I also realise, as did the philosopher Taylor Swift, that haters gonna hate.
Putting it another way, Hansard won’t be letting me rewrite verbal missteps, so I might as well get used to it.
Ended the day reflecting on the strangeness of representing an electorate — the mighty Helensville, in my case — by leaving it every other week in favour of Wellington.
Still, walking in the actual corridors of power seems like the right thing to do.
Or the centre-right thing to do, again in my case.
Parliament as an institution has a well-structured and disciplined vibe, hierarchical even, and in that sense it is a little reminiscent of my time as naval officer in a past life.
In summary, it felt like a huge day today but — spoiler alert — tomorrow will likely be even huger.
The promised hugeness of today arrives in the form of my first caucus meeting.
It’s probably not that smart of me to talk it up — even here in my personal diary, which will never be read unless Rawshark can hack a notebook (a notebook notebook, not a computer notebook) — given the proceedings of all such meetings are confidential.
Enough said, quite literally. Today I met almost all the new MPs of the other parties as well.
Enjoyed our interaction, which was in turn highly formal (a mihi) then somewhat informal (at a subsequent reception).
Each newbie addressed the group briefly, confidently and concisely. The discipline of countless recent campaign debates and panels still shapes us.
Some room was still found for cross-party banter even so, ensuring the pleasantries were to be enjoyed much more than endured.
I missed a trick in failing to use the phrase “Mr Speaker” even once, despite his prominent role in the afternoon’s proceedings.
Ah, well, there’ll be other chances.
Missed some of class today but with good reason, namely a 5-dayold child at home with wife.
Also a valuable chance to achieve some minor wins at electorate level as well, working from home in Auckland’s northwest.
As I suspect will always be the case, the day’s agenda comprised of a mix of items on which I can be proactive and others to which I’m very much reactive.
Communicating well with the electorate is an early priority for this fresh-faced, eager beaver, keen bean, local MP, which is the proactive bit.
Out in various Auckland electorate offices today, a chance to see how good MPs — and their staff, just as importantly — provide great representation to all who walk through the doors.
I reflect on certain similarities between that aspect of the local MP’s role and my recent working life as a lawyer.
Skills in analysis and advocacy seem highly relevant so I’m hoping they prove useful.
Other skills learned in my past professional life (for example, submarine navigation during my time in the Royal Australian Navy) may prove less transferable.
Watch this space.