Hawke’s Bay Today, Hawke’s Bay by Victoria White 20 Nov 2017
Hawke’s Bay is well represented in Parliament – with six MPs across four electorates speaking for the region and its residents.
With Parliament back in session since early this month, all now have their feet firmly under their desks.
Four of the region’s MPs are in Government, with two sitting inside cabinet.
Napier MP Stuart Nashis Minister of Police, Fisheries, Revenue and for Small Business.
Last week he said he was “loving” being a minister, even though Labour’s 100-day plan involved changes to the tax system which were keeping him busy.
“A lot of the stuff we’re doing, tax and police, the impact you can have on the lives of good hard-working Kiwis is enormous, so you’ve got to make sure that you understand the responsibility of the decisions you’re making.” Being sworn in as a minister had been a highlight, as was working with the Commissioner of Police.
He’d also learnt some lessons – comments he made about introducing GST on online purchases from international websites were quickly back-pedalled by the Government.
“I made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that. It’s learning the difference between opposition and government. You’ve got to be, in Government, very circumspect of what you say, and we learn lessons the whole time with everything we do.
“I was flippant in a way that you just cannot be in Government.” For re-elected Labour IkaroaRawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri, the first weeks of Parliament had been “exciting, but it’s kind of like a roll-up your sleeves kind of excitement, because we’ve got a plan we have to work our way through”.
The 100-day plan meant Ms Whaitiri was working hard to meet certain goals, while also learning the ins-and-outs of her new roles.
“It’s just enjoying this opportunity that we’ve been given and trying to do your bit within the 100 days to provide a good, strong, caring government . . .
there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us and the privilege that it brings hasn’t worn off yet.” The MP said she was enjoying learning about her new portfolio as Minister of Customs – with the timely seizure of $20 million of cocaine in the Tauranga harbour just days after she was sworn in.
The biggest challenge so far had been combining her ministerial roles with that of representing the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate.
Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule is one of the region’s two opposition MPs. He said, although Parliament was different to what he expected, “I’m loving it.” After being mayor of Hastings for 15 years, he said he was getting used to the intense parliamentary environment.
“That’s all quite a big learning curve for me, it’s way more formalised than local council.
Everybody’s very supportive, and working very hard as a team and so I’m really enjoying it.” A highlight had been his maiden speech, “the most significant speech I’ve ever made”.
The Wairarapa electorate which includes Tararua and some of Central Hawke’s Bay has three voices in Parliament.
Re-elected National MP Alastair Scott has been joined by his two-time opponent Labour MP Mr McAnulty, and New Zealand First MP Ron Mark both of whom got in on their party lists.
As deputy leader of New Zealand First, Mr Mark also sits inside cabinet.
Mr McAnulty made his maiden speech last week joking that, although he pledged to work with his fellow Wairarapa MPs, he warned Mr Scott “just to be clear, I still want your job”.
Last week he said his first few weeks in Parliament had been a “baptism of fire”, with highlights being meeting the president of Ireland, and being elected as junior whip of the Labour Party.
Mr Scott and Mr Mark did not respond to requests for comment.