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Wednesday November 1, 2017

Learning the business of Government By Julia Czerwonatis

Winston Peter’s groundbreaking announcement two weeks ago came as “a bit of a shock” for newly elected Ohariu MP Greg O’Connor. “I was at on old boys’ dinner at St Patrick’s College together with Paul Eagle when the news came. “Bill English and Chris Finlayson are also old boys there, and Paul and I weren’t sure whether we’d still be allowed to give a speech,” he says with a chuckle. Now Greg is busy setting up his office in Johnsonville and preparing to be part of the New Zealand’s 52nd Government. “We already have an office space; it’s right next to the Johnsonville roundabout,” he says. “It still needs to be approved by Parliamentary Service.” The last few weeks had been tedious for the Labour MP and his colleagues who first had to wait for the special votes to get in and then for Winston’s call. Greg had received 17,084 votes in Ohariu, beating his main contestant Brett Hud-

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The new MP for Ohariu, Greg O’Connor, will now also be part of the Government. PHOTO: Julia Czerwonatis

son (National) by 1,051 votes. Despite the election success, Greg “really thought we’d be in the opposition”. Greg says he is glad that he can get down to business, hire staff and prepare thoroughly for his new role. “I’ve been living all over the electorate, and I always believed I knew the place and the people very well. But in the course of the campaign, I realised I don’t. “I was digging a lot deeper and gained a far better understanding of the electorate,” Greg explains. He says he didn’t expect to

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get a portfolio in Government and is glad he didn’t. “The last thing you want in your first term is being a minister,” Greg states. “It’s all about learning the business of Government for me now.” Greg looks “very optimistic” at the coalition with NZ First. “There’s a huge determination here to make this work. “We are feeling privileged to be starting over with a fresh approach.”

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