Holly Walker has announced she is withdrawing from the Green Party list citing family reasons, although still plans on standing for the Hutt South electorate to campaign for the party vote.
This means she is withdrawing as an MP unless the unlikely happens and she beats Trevor Mallard and Chris Bishop against her wishes.
Green Party MP Holly Walker to step down from party list
Green Party MP Holly Walker has decided to withdraw from the party’s list in the upcoming election and will not seek a second term in Parliament. Ms Walker was number 12 on the Green Party list.
“Unfortunately, a recent unexpected change in my family life has made it very difficult for me to continue as a Green MP. Under these circumstances, I have chosen to put my family first and withdraw myself from the Green Party list,” said Ms Walker,
“It has been extremely rewarding to combine parenting and politics, and a challenge I have enjoyed. Unfortunately, a recent unexpected change in my family life has made it very difficult for me to continue.
“Even with great support from the Green Party and colleagues, changes in my family life meant I would not have been able to do justice to my role as an MP. Under these circumstances, I have chosen to put my family first.”
Walker makes it clear several times she is putting her family first. She had a baby last October.
Regardless of her specific family circumstances – I don’t know if there is any more to this than just the conflict in priorities – this isn’t surprising. When it became known yesterday that a Green MP was withdrawing she was the first one who came to mind.
When Walker became an MP she showed signs of struggling with the aggressive nature of Parliamentary politics. It will have been a major culture shock. Within the Green Party it is a very supportive team environment with a lot of mutual back patting and praise of their people and policies.
To then be exposed to combative politics where extreme criticism and personal attacks are not uncommon it would take some adjusting to. Some new MPs never do settle in and choose not to stay.
Add parenthood to that and any mother or father would question their priorities.
While praise has been heaped on Walker’s efforts as an MP it’s worth noting that she got into Parliament at 12 on the Green list – which was a doubtful position, they only had nine MPs in the prior term – she was placed in the same position in this year’s list.
I got involved in some discussion yesterday on Twitter about the lack of support for working parents in Parliament. This was obviously seen as a factor in Walker’s decision.
The job of an MP is very demanding, as is that of a parent. I think most people considering a possible Parliamentary career will weigh up the likely impact on their family. And many will keep assessing whether Parliament is a place the want to be.
David Garrett , Act MP in the 2008-11 term, cites the exposure of his family to extreme media pressure as a reason for giving up his seat.
Labour activist Stephanie Rodgers raised the issue of lack of assistance for parents in Parliament.
What does @hollyrwalker’s resignation tell us about how accessible/accommodating working in Parliament is for parents of young children?
Shorter sitting hours. Greater flexibility for parents to not be in the House at all hours. A 24/7 creche
I suggested that there were no easy solutions. Rodgers accused:
I have the sense Pete has a fundamental opposition to change. Any change.
That’s wrong. If things can reasonably be made easier for MP parents I’d support that, but to what extent should MPs get special treatment? And would it make enough difference?
Many occupations are difficult to balance with parenting, especially where babies are involved. I doubt there are many workplaces that provide 24/7 creches. Airline pilots and stewards have no choice.
Shorter work hours can be arranged in some occupations, but with many it’s difficult, for example doctors, nurses, police, fire, teachers.
Some can have job share arrangements but positions of elected representatives poses unique problems. There is no provision for being a part time MP.
And it’s not just facilities at Parliament that are a problem. MPs do a lot of their work outside Parliament. Travel around the country is often required.
There may be some things that can be changed to help Parliamentary parents but the options are limited.
When people put themselves forward to be elected they should know the demands of the job. If people plan to have a family while working they must know there may be compromises necessary. And sometimes, probably quite often, choices have to be made as to whether the work is compatible with parenting.
Walker has chosen to give priority to her family situation, as many parents do.
There may have been nothing that could have been provided to help her enough in Parliament to have changed this decision.
Greens would normally campaign for something if they thought it would make a difference. I don’t know if they have tried to make things easier for Walker’s dual responsibilities, or if they have simply accepted her decision.
Sometimes – often – parents simply put their family first when there are no easy alternatives.
I’ve followed her posts about combining parenting a young child and the huge work demands. Good thoughts to her.
Gutted, but completely understand and appreciate putting Whanau first.
It was Walker’s choice to stand for Parliament, and her choice to stand down. Most will understand her likely reasons.