Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Election 2020: The first day of school for newbie MPs at Parliament

The first day of being an MP is often likened to the first day at a new school – and for good reason.

The newly elected politicians are fresh, nervous but excited, and keen to get their feet under the desk.

This morning, the majority of New Zealand’s 40 newest Members of Parliament arrived at their new second home.

The first to arrive on the precinct were the new Labour MPs, who started rolling in from 7am.

There are 22 newbies from the red team – one of the largest intakes in New Zealand’s history.

The first to be spotted by waiting media was Ilam MP Sarah Pallett, followed by Hamilton West’s Gaurav Sharma – who had to be in early as his phone short-circuited last night.

They were all met at the door by Kiri Allan, who was first elected in 2017 and is now a deputy whip. She took them through security and into the bowels of Parliament so they didn’t get lost.

Helen White and Ibrahim Omer were next – followed by a group who stopped for selfies before coming face-to-face with the waiting press pack.

They all made their way inside but were quickly ushered back out for “roll call” on Parliament’s steps.

Camilla: “Present.”

Glen: “Oh, hello!”

Nasi Chen: “Here.”

Barbra Edmonds: “Talofa.”

Dr Gaurav Sharma: “Present, Ms Allan.”

Finance Minister and senior Labour MP Grant Robertson shared a few words.

“God you’re a good-looking bunch,” he said.

“I’m feeling much healthier already, given the number of GPs and midwives – we’re covering all the bases.”

Justice Minister and former Labour leader Andrew Little harked back to when he first arrived in Parliament and spoke about how often he got lost.

At some point within the next few weeks, the new MPs will be buddied up with some of the more experienced members of their new team.

After the speeches and a group photo, the new MPs made their way to Labour’s caucus room for their first meeting.

Given the sheer size of Labour’s MP roster after its landslide victory, the party won’t be able to fit in the traditional Government caucus room.

Instead, the 64 MPs will be packed into another, bigger room – potentially Parliament’s Legislative Council Chamber.

Speaking to the Herald, Labour’s chief whip Michael Wood said the newbies were given a briefing on a number of things this morning.

This included key lessons some of the more seasoned MPs have learned over the years, various tips and “some of the little traps to watch out for”.

They were also talked to about collective discipline and were told: “It’s fine to have your own views and disagree but you have to have those discussions in house”.

They then met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who stressed the importance of looking after themselves and how to keep focused on the job.

She also reflected on the fact there will be tough days in their new jobs, and provided advice on how to keep a cool head when things get stressful.

After a group lunch at Copperfield’s – Parliament’s cafe – they joined the new MPs from other parties at an induction class, where they were told about the IT systems, how the funding for their office worked and tips about how to manage staff.

There were markedly fewer National MPs being inducted today – just five in total.

National’s chief whip Matt Doocey did the greetings.

He met new Southland MP Joseph Mooney, who was with his wife and two kids, on Parliament’s forecourt and picked up Penny Simmonds from the airport.

Chris Luxon arrived late in the day and was met by press, who quizzed him on his leadership ambitions before he made his way inside.

The other two new Nats, Nicola Grigg and Simon Watts, were not spotted today – but it’s highly likely they’re already in the capital.

The Greens Election Day result meant they picked up three new MPs, who also went through the induction process today – as did Act’s new nine.

Party leader David Seymour took Simon Court, who is number five on the list, down to the press gallery to say hello to reporters.

The new MPs finished their first day on the job at dinner with their new colleagues.

But it’s unlikely to be a big night, as caucus meeting begins bright and early tomorrow morning.

That’s when the real work begins.


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