Election 2020: Largest Labour caucus ever arrives for first day of MP-school

Election 2020: Largest Labour caucus ever arrives for first day of MP-school

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Labour MP Kiri Allan does a roll call of new Labour MPs.

Labour’s huge intake of new MPs were keen to praise leader Jacinda Ardern on their way into Parliament today, saying Kiwis had voted for stability.

Almost all of Labour’s 22 new MPs arrived in the capital on Monday for the first day of the induction course that Parliament runs for new MPs. Some MPs who may still get in on the special vote are also turning up.

Many but not all of the new MPs pose for a photo on the steps of Parliament.

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

Many but not all of the new MPs pose for a photo on the steps of Parliament.

This is Labour’s largest new intake since the first Labour Government swept to power in 1935, and will see the party have more women than men in caucus for the first time ever. It is the largest Labour caucus ever.

The MPs will meet for a caucus meeting on Tuesday but will start Parliamentary Services’ MP training on Monday.

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This will include the kind of induction most new employees get – a new laptop and some help with getting around the sprawling Parliamentary complex – but also a short course on constitutional law, and even a fake Question Time session in the debating chamber.

Kiri Allan reads out a roll call of the new MPs.

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

Kiri Allan reads out a roll call of the new MPs.

Labour’s Kiri Allan, who entered Parliament in 2017, was out front with the media pack greeting the new MPs, clutching an A4 page with their photos to make sure she didn’t miss any.

“I remember showing up very early, being very nervous, almost to the point of being scared,” Allan recalls of her first day.

She said the induction course can be a bit of an “information overload” and the training would be spread out a bit more this term after some feedback from her intake in 2017.

“They will also have their first interaction with a press gallery press pack and that is horrifically terrifying, or at least I remember it was,” Allan said.

Dr Gaurav Sharma, the new MP for Hamilton West.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF/Stuff

Dr Gaurav Sharma, the new MP for Hamilton West.

Dr. Gaurav Sharma is one of three new GPs joining the caucus after winning Hamilton West from National’s Tim Macindoe with a 4425 majority. Along with Jamie Strange’s win in Hamilton East this is the first time the city has voted red since 2005.

“It’s quite exciting. It’s still sinking in,” Sharma said.

Rachel Boyack, the new MP for Nelson, acknowledged the work of her predecessor Nick Smith, who held the seat for National for 24 years, saying she had big shoes to fill.

“This is a result based on the need for certainty and the support for Labour’s plan as we recover and rebuild from Covid-19,” Boyack said.

Boyack ran unsuccessfully in 2017, telling Stuff it had been a “four-year job interview for me”.

Dr. Emily Henderson is a “maybe” MP depending on the results of the special vote.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF/Stuff

Dr. Emily Henderson is a “maybe” MP depending on the results of the special vote.

Helen White, in on the list after losing Auckland Central to the Green Party, said she was thrilled to get in.

“I’ve worked like 27 years working as a lawyer. I’ve been working in a field [employment law] where people have been very hurt by the way we’ve been led. I want to get in there and help fix it,” White said.

She said the Auckland Central result was “actually amazing” and she would “see what happens”. There is a possibility she would win the seat on the special vote.

Ibrahim Omer, a list MP and the first African MP, said he was very excited.

Glen Bennett is welcomed by Kiri Allan.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF/Stuff

Glen Bennett is welcomed by Kiri Allan.

“It’s a huge privilege, and something we don’t take for granted – it comes with responsibility,” Omer said.

A trade unionist before coming to Parliament, Omer said the Government had done a lot for workers but there was always more to be done.

Labour’s Steph Lewis, who won Whanganui on her second try.

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

Labour’s Steph Lewis, who won Whanganui on her second try.

Steph Lewis, who won back Whanganui for Labour for the first time since 2002, said her background in both the rural and urban parts of her electorate would be useful.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. But I’m very honoured by the faith that the people of the Whanganui electorate have put in me and I hope to do them proud over the next three years.”

Dr. Neru Leavasa won the brand new seat of Takanini in Auckland, despite an expectation the seat would go to National.

“I’ll be honest I’m a little bit nervous. I’m here to learn. I’m really glad we’ve got the induction process,” he said.

Labour’s Grant Robertson, who first came to Parliament in 2008, said he only owned one decent suit when he was elected, and ended up with a TV crew following him on a quest to buy another.

“Jacinda went suit-shopping with me on Willis Street. So they filmed Jacinda pointing at suits and telling me to put them on. So nothing’s really changed.”

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