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‘There is life after Parliament’: Former MP

Monday 6 February 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in National, Politics

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‘There is life after Parliament’: Former MP
Former Tupapa MP Tupou Faireka, from left, former Penrhyn MP Willie John, former clerk Joseph Caffery, former Ruaau MP Vaine Wichman and former Deputy Prime Minister Norman George are calling for more support for former parliamentarians in February 2022. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS 22021134

Former member of Parliament Norman George is calling on retired politicians, among others, to stay active and continue working, as he reckons most of them die three to five years after leaving the halls of power.

George says many politicians become “inconsolable, angry, surrendering, ashamed and incurable” when they leave public life.

At 76, George said work is helping keep him alive.

He has raised concerns as he sees Association of Former Members of Parliament numbers dwindling.

He helped form the group. 

They regrouped early last year following a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19 – the association was formed in July 2018 in a combined effort to support former parliamentarians.  

“Life ends for many when they are defeated at the polls or resign,” George said.

“Some of them experience great difficulties, a lot of them are traumatised.”

By formalising the group, George said that trend could be reversed.

However, it was also about building and continuing to maintain relationships.

Speaking in broad terms, George said it was not just retired politicians, but for most people in general to consider staying active and working through retirement.

“It’s undertaking a psychological autopsy, evaluating yourself and undertaking a thorough check of your well-being.”     

George listed more than a dozen people he knows, all older than 70, and resident in Rarotonga, who continue working and maintaining good health.

“The most challenging aspect of growing older is cognitive awareness, it’s about guiding your brain functions.

“Your greatest friend in growing older is work, don’t be idle, keep busy.”

George said the theme behind his statements was the lack of response to his “hardworking attempt” to help formalise the Association of Former Members of Parliament.

“They (former politicians) are dying far too early after leaving Parliament.”                 

The “thrust” of the group was to recognise former MPs, help maintain parliamentary structure, sustain LAP (life after parliament), encourage members to stay fit and active, continue serving the community, look out for and support sick members or the spouses of deceased MPs, ensure members are given funerals with honour and purchase flags with names of MPs knitted on each flag to be wrapped over a casket, but removed to hand to family.

The group also called for dignity to be observed at government functions, “when or if invited, we must mix with serving members at receptions for all opening of Parliament and Constitution Day functions”.