Friday, 23 June 2017

Guest Speaker: Chester Borrows


We were very fortunate to have the Hon Chester Borrows visit us as a guest speaker today. He flew down from Wellington to share his expertise with us.

Chester left school at age 17 to become a police officer. He worked as a police officer for about 24 years. Chester was invited to run for the Whanganui seat in 1999. He campaigned and lost. He went to study law instead. In 2002 he ran again and lost again. He became a defence lawyer, defending some of the people he would once have arrested. He ran for the Whanganui seat again and won in 2005.

'If you believe in what you're doing, if at first you don't succeed, stop and have a think. Ask yourself if it's what you really believe you should be doing. If it is, keep going and persist and you will succeed.'

Chester has had many life experiences, including being a footy coach and a Sunday school teacher. It's important in parliament to have people who've done a whole lot of different things.

Parliament
There are two sides in parliament: government, and opposition. The party that wins the election becomes the government. The opposition is similar to a sports team the government plays against. The aim of the game is to play as hard as you can to win. You respect your opposition, just like the All Blacks respect the Lions.

Rules
In a debate, you have an affirmative (yes) and negative (no) side. Every debate has rules. Just like there are rules in a classroom, there are rules in parliament. In parliament, when you want to speak, you have to stand up and say, "Mr Speaker." The speaker then selects one of the people to remain standing and speak. The other microphones are turned off.

People are allowed to shout, but they can't swear. There is a specific list of 'unparliamentary language,' words which people are not allowed to use. Sometimes, people will deliberately use unparliamentary language, like calling someone a scumbag, to interrupt their speech.


Being a Member of Parliament
A member of parliament participates in debates, works in committees, and works to help people in their electorate. Working in a committee typically involves working in a team of 6-10 people, including people who have very different views. Helping people in the electorate can be quite difficult, but also very rewarding. An MP's job is to help every constituent in their electorate, even if they are unable to vote, or didn't vote for the MP. There are 79 schools in Whanganui and Chester aims to visit each school at least once every three years.

Working With Others
Chester gave us some advice for working with others: 'Look at the skills people have got. Ask your team, Does anyone know about this? What are your strengths here? Everyone has value and purpose. It's important in every team to have people who are good at different things. It doesn't matter whether you like the people you're with. People you might not like can still have skills and strengths that you don't have. The biggest thing is the project, getting the best result. To get the best result and make the best decisions, you have to work well together. Keep your eye on the prize. It's not about who comes up with the best ideas. Good ideas are good ideas, no matter who thinks of them.'

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