Reflecting at the end of the year is something I’m sure we all do. Looking back at 2019, I’m amazed that the last two years have flown by since I became a Member of Parliament. I have had very busy jobs before and times in my life where I wasn’t sure how I was going to juggle everything. One of the biggest challenges I overcame was studying part-time for my law degree, while working for Air NZ, being a mother, running the Flight Attendant Association, and commuting to and from Auckland while doing all that.
But no job has ever challenged me to the extent that I am now. And in my current role, there are two questions I am often asked: ‘Is it what you expected’ and ‘Do you like it?’ The end of the year seems like a good time to reflect on this.
No, it is nothing like I ever expected. It is no secret that I am not a career politician. I was 52 when I joined the 52nd Parliament. What I knew about politics was from my constitutional law paper, what I read in the newspapers, and from watching Parliament TV. I often didn’t like what I saw – political point scoring, deliberate misinterpretation of statements, an environment where often it seems justified for some politicians to assert half-truths and misinformation. But when not in the public eye, the situation can be very different. Even as MPs from different parties, we often work collaboratively on many Bills at Select Committee. All of us have the same end goal, to make our country the best it can be. Different parties just have different ways of how they see we get there.
To the question, ‘Do you like it?’: Most of the time, absolutely. And it is, of course, a real privilege to be part of our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s team, building a New Zealand we can all be proud of. But there are times when the long-term challenges our country faces seem overwhelming. And there are times when I should be there for my family and I cannot, because there is so much demand on my time. My role sees me doing 14 to 16 hour days at Parliament, then being out and about in Rodney when I’m not in Wellington. And as many people know, especially those following my social media, the work never stops. Holding clinics, meeting with schools, businesses, NGOs, supporting community events, attending markets, planting trees, advocating for local issues (like Hill Street and the Matakana link road, where we recently had some good wins), and organising visits from ministers, such as the recent one to the Rodney Women’s Centre. The list is endless, but I love doing it.
I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.
Marja Lubeck, Rodney-based MP