Election 2020: New Taranaki MPs reflect on first week in the job

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October 23, 2020


Learning the ropes of Parliament, along with the do’s and don’ts of MP behaviour, has been on the agenda this week for Taranaki’s new Labour representatives.

New Plymouth MP Glen Bennett, Whanganui MP Steph Lewis and Angela Roberts, who got in on the party list, were in Wellington this week after their recent electoral success.

Roberts’ place in Parliament is still waiting final confirmation, which depends on the outcome of the special votes, which will be released on November 6.

On Monday, the trio hit the ground running, joining 37 other new MPs for roll call and four days of orientation.

After his first week in Parliament, Labour MP Glen Bennett is looking forward to spending time in his electorate.

ANDY JACKSON/Stuff

After his first week in Parliament, Labour MP Glen Bennett is looking forward to spending time in his electorate.

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While navigating the Parliamentary buildings, which Bennett said were akin to “Hogwarts”, the first week was heavy on administration, described by him as an “information dump”.

“The common narrative is that there is no workplace like this in the country.”

As part of a group, Bennett met with Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern, where they got a chance to share their areas of passion, which would inform any responsibilities they get assigned in the future.

New Plymouth MP Glen Bennett chats on Friday about his first week in the role.

ANDY JACKSON/Stuff

New Plymouth MP Glen Bennett chats on Friday about his first week in the role.

Bennett will now spend the next 10 days in the electorate before he heads back to Wellington, and intended to get the ball rolling around staff recruitment, confirming office space and catching up with people.

Lewis said she had been so busy in the week that she had not had a chance yet to reflect on her win.

But she had spent most of her nights trying to reply to all the messages of support she received from well-wishers.

Whanganui MP Steph Lewis arrived at Parliament on Monday to start a role she sees as an “incredible opportunity”. (File Photo)

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

Whanganui MP Steph Lewis arrived at Parliament on Monday to start a role she sees as an “incredible opportunity”. (File Photo)

“I’m incredibly excited, I’m humbled as this is just an incredible opportunity.”

Lewis said in the coming weeks the new MPs will get taught about how to behave in the debating chamber and have a chance to practice through role-playing.

Another thing on her to-do list, along with Bennett and Roberts, will be to write a 15-minute long maiden speech.

Like Bennett, the mother-of-one was “quite looking forward to being in the electorate” before heading back to the capital.

As Roberts was playing a bit of a waiting game, on Tuesday she will be back in her Stratford High School classroom where she teaches economics and drama.

Despite the tinge of uncertainty, Roberts said “it was hard not to get excited” about the future.

Labour list MP Angela Robert will leave behind teaching to take on the role, which will be officially confirmed when the special vote count is confirmed on November 6. (File Photo)

Simon O’Connor/Stuff

Labour list MP Angela Robert will leave behind teaching to take on the role, which will be officially confirmed when the special vote count is confirmed on November 6. (File Photo)

Although the thought of giving up teaching to become an MP was bittersweet, she considered being in Parliament as “serving the community in a different way.”

Roberts said during the first days she had spent with the wider Labour caucus it was clear the new Government wanted to “hit the ground running” once it was officially formed.

“We’ve got to be able to deliver from day one.”



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