National MP Chester Borrows wishes he spoke out more as 12 years in politics ends

National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows won't be seeking re-election next year. He's actively looking for a new job ...
Lauren Hayes

National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows won't be seeking re-election next year. He's actively looking for a new job but won't leave until he's clear of triggering a by-election.

National MP Chester Borrows will step down from politics next year - at the same time he faces trial on a careless driving charge.

Borrows told Prime Minister John Key more than six months ago that he wouldn't be standing in the next election and said he always planned to only do four terms.

After being dropped as Minister for Courts and appointed Deputy Speaker of the House following the 2014 election, he said it was clear he would never be the Speaker or a minister again.

In hindsight he says he "could have had more fights" because "sometimes bad behaviour is rewarded".

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Borrows, 59, has increasingly spoken out since he was dropped from his ministerial role - including publicly disagreeing with Corrections Minister Judith Collins about her decision to stand down a gang member from his mentor work in prison.

The man at the centre of the controversy, Ngapari Nui, is a personal friend of Borrows and Collins suggested that was getting in the way of his judgement.

Borrows, 59, joined Parliament in 2005 after defeating the incumbent Labour MP Jill Pettis. He was appointed Minister for Courts in 2011.

He would like to find a job in the justice, indigenous rights or welfare areas.

Borrows was formerly a police officer including a sole charge stint in Patea in South Taranaki. Upon leaving the police force he worked as a lawyer in Hawera.

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Last week Borrows' application to toss out a careless driving charge was turned down.

The MP for Whanganui was charged with careless driving causing injury over an incident on March 22 during an anti-Trans Pacific Partnership protest in Whanganui.

Borrows was accused of injuring two protesters - he said his frustrations around that were a "separate issue" but he didn't want to be remembered for it.

He'd like to be remembered for "being a fairly grunty politician, local advocate and someone who got a bit done".

"The thing I'm proudest of from my work in here is something no one would even think of too much, and that is convincing (then Justice Minister) Simon Power in 2008 that we could take DNA off everybody arrested in the same way we can take fingerprints and photographs without having to go off and get a warrant.

"What that means now is we will be able to identify an offender from the first time they leave blood, semen, saliva or hair at a scene...that single thing's probably prevented more victims than anything we've done."

He's also proud of his work helping create the youth justice reforms that were introduced in 2008, which he said had resulted in the number of young people before the court "plummet" since they were implemented.

Being a Minister inside of Cabinet was always the goal for Borrows - something he never ticked off as his courts portfolio fell outside.

"I didn't come here to make up the numbers and I have to be true to myself. In hindsight I wish I'd spoken out more rather than less."

Borrows wasn't opposed to a new job overseas or returning to the court room as a lawyer - he was "actively" looking for another job.

It was his "mates" in Parliament he said he would miss most and the "privilege of sitting in caucus and listening to the Prime Minister's thoughts on national and international events."

"A lot of people have tried very hard to get there and failed so to get there and to be on the inside and be able to lobby for your electorate and your ideas with your Cabinet colleagues is really good."

Friends and families make the sacrifices for MPs and Borrows said he was "looking forward to setting that record straight".

While he didn't go into the deputy speaker job expecting much - Borrows says the "humour" of the job meant he had enjoyed it more than he thought he would.

"You always hope for something different but that's just the way it is - it just confirmed for me that my decision to leave after four terms was the right one."

 - Stuff

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