Life as a new MP

February 9th, 2009 at 8:28 am by David Farrar

Jacinda Arden MP does a guest blog at on life as a new MP.

Pam Corkery once likened a new MPs first weeks in Parliament to starting a new boarding school. In some ways, she’s right.

You’re thrown into a flurry of inductions covering everything from setting up an electorate office, right through to the correct use of the microphones in the debating chamber (yes, there is indeed a right and wrong way to talk into a mic that doesn’t move). And when the house is sitting in Urgency, which essentially means staying in Parliament Buildings from 9am till midnight, you suddenly find yourself having three meals a day in the same cafeteria, with the same people.

And the cafetaria food isn’t that great, to say the least. I’ve always wanted Parliament to go with a free market and scrap Bellamys and put a food court in. A Subway shop would do very well I suspect!

I’m the youngest member of the new Parliament, a fact I am reminded of on a pretty regular basis. During the election campaign I had my fair share of (usually elderly gentlemen) telling me I was too young to be a candidate. Perhaps in an effort to be constructive, I was sometimes lucky enough get a follow up offer of marriage if I was looking for something else to occupy my time.

Jacinda doesn’t quantify how many offers she received, or more importantly how many she accepted :-)

The election may be over, but the ‘yuff’ label lingers. The day I was sworn into parliament Radio Live wanted to chat about being ‘young and new’. Much like the gentlemen in my electorate, the interviewer didn’t mince her words, pointing out that my interest in politics from a pretty young age meant I could hardly purport to represent the majority of young people. My response to that is simple – I don’t.

My age, just like my gender, does not give me the right to represent any particular group. But it does give me a sense of responsibility to ensure that young people have a voice in parliament, whether that means ensuring there are platforms for young people to have their say, or by building a greater understanding of the issues effecting young kiwis. Whatever the method, it’s a continuous one. I don’t believe a mandate is simply gifted to you once every three years. It must be earned, and it must be maintained.

I think the Internet through e-voting, e-consultations etc is one mechanism where MPs can engage younger voters mreo effectively.

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10 Responses to “Life as a new MP”

  1. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Just another Helen Klark in the making.

    Quit politics Jacinda. Go into business for yourself. Learn something about life before you presume to “act as a voice” for others.

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  2. francis (712 comments) says:

    A Subway shop would be pure gold.

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  3. Scott (1,703 comments) says:

    She seems a very nice young woman. I hope she does not turn out like Helen Klark- which is what Redbaiter is concerned about. I agree it is not a promising start-working in Helen’s office and leadership of International Socialist youth.

    However there is still time. I would like to see her work outside of the public sector. People that are in Parliament for their whole life are a bit like teachers who go to Teachers training college straight out of school. They don’t get the range of life experience that you get outside of the classroom and in Jacinda’s case that she would get outside of Parliament.

    Also getting married and raising a family is great experience.
    I’ve noticed more than one latte liberal change their views once their first daughter reaches adolescence. But no doubt those experiences will come.

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  4. GJ (329 comments) says:

    The challenge most voters face is that they tend to vote for a party rather than a good candidate. The exception is possibly the leaders of the parties. We still have not worked out MMP to use our two votes to maxim advantage. There were a number of good candidates amongst minor parties that did not get in, yet had wide experience in the outside world. They would have had much to contribute. How they can get elected without joining a major party and then getting stifled by the system I haven’t yet worked out. (eg as Clarkson and Peach have been in National)

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  5. Rex Widerstrom (5,255 comments) says:

    The day I was sworn into parliament Radio Live wanted to chat about being ‘young and new’… the interviewer didn’t mince her words, pointing out that my interest in politics from a pretty young age meant I could hardly purport to represent the majority of young people. My response to that is simple – I don’t.

    What? That has to be in the running for the stupidest assertion disguised as a question yet asked. Though considering the source I’m not surprised.

    What exactly does someone representing youth look like then? A try-hard who wears a nose ring, like a former Yoof Affairs Minister? Do they have to skateboard into the Chamber? Say “Gnarly, dude” rather than “hear, hear”?

    Jacinda should have turned round and taken the idiot’s head off, not bought into the assertion. Just because someone is intelligent and passionate about political issues doesn’t make them any less representative of people their age than anyone else their age. And it certainly suggests greater potential to make a decent politician.

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  6. MT_Tinman (2,985 comments) says:

    (I can’t bear to even copy-and-paste it) Just how much did the hands shake typing that last sentence Rex?

    Particularly the final two words.

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  7. Rex Widerstrom (5,255 comments) says:

    MT – you win today’s prize for spotting the Kiwiblog Deliberate Oxymoron ;-)

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  8. Helensphotogenicimposter (244 comments) says:

    Her mandate was largely gifted to her. She is yet another Labour Chardoney Socialist who licked a bit of carpet at Labour Head office and was offered a high place on the labour list at the expense of some hard working blue collar family men, which at one time provided the backbone to the labour party.

    No offence to Jacinda, but Labour has long forgotten where it came from and the people it was supposed to represent. Unless candidates have put in the hard hours at the coal face, the last thing most voters want is an educated idealistic desk jockey. That said, great to get rid of the Tiz.

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  9. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,811 comments) says:

    Jacinda Arden and Pam Corkery mentioned in the same post. How appropriate. Both will the same impact on the New Zealand political scene, none!

    At least Pam had a proper job before she went into parliament. A handy warning of future career prospects post parliament for aspiring MP’s. What is Pam doing these days?

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  10. clintheine (1,563 comments) says:

    She will be disilusioned with it all in 3 years, unless she gets caught up in the perks and lifestyle like her other comrades in Labour. It is a step up for her, all that time sucking up to the right people, to get the “glory” job. The only press we’ll see from her will be on the blogs…under the heading “what ever happened to?” :)

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