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Exiting MP experience


Three more MPs have announced their impending retirement, so 10 are now set to retire before the year is out. While neither David Carter, Nicky Wagner or Sarah Dowie are likely to be remembered for all that much (excusing the odd scandal for the latter), the future of our Parliament is in question.

With the average tenure for an MP being approximately two terms, and with such a large number of current senior MPs retiring, should we be concerned about a lack of continuity or experience in Parliament?

Across just two elections (2014 and 2017), half of Parliament has been turned over. This constant rate of change means that Parliament is virtually replaced completely every four or five elections.

While many may view this as a healthy trend against government stagnation, this turnover does raise questions about the importance of continuity of experience in government. One only need look at this Government and see the apparent lack of experience on their front bench. The PM is still referred to as inexperienced by some.

Naturally MPs need to be regularly replaced with fresh faces, so they can become the criticism lightning rod. But when you shed MPs who carry experience, you end up with a long-term issue of future governments not having a Cabinet with the “know-how” to manage their responsibilities and deliver on their election mandates.

Morgan Kemp

  1. Phil Hunt, Picton says:

    In our democracy, a Member of Parliament could serve for (maybe) up to 40+ years. The same with local councillors. Unfortunately we have quite a few in both camps who have warmed seats with nothing to show for it.
    I think nine to 12 years is quite long enough for MPs or councillors.
    I also think that the terms for Parliament should be five years and councils at least four.
    We are well overdue for some constitutional reform, but I note that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!