DI­ARY OFA NEW­BIE

In­side the new MPs’ first week

Herald on Sunday - - THIS WEEK - CHRIS PENK NA­TIONAL, HELENSVILLE

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.

Mon­day

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.

Tues­day

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.

Wed­nes­day

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.

Thurs­day

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.

Her­ald on Sun­day mon­tage

Nick Reed

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