Winter certainly arrived last month with the first major snow dump for the year. Never did I ever think I would have to walk my groceries home. I hope you all got through relatively unscathed. I’m sure there are a few farmers out there thankful it arrived early in the lambing and calving season. Fingers crossed it stays away for spring. It’s been a busy month in Parliament with multiple announcements in Wellington in regards to Telford, the Lumsden Maternity Centre and more. It’s been a mix of good and bad news, but know I am working hard to do all I can for you, the people of Clutha-Southland.
I put a motion to the Health Select Committee to launch an independent investigation into how the decision was made to downgrade the Lumsden Maternity Centre because the decision was made on incorrect and flawed data. It was incredibly disappointing in the Health Select Committee the two local List MP’s voted down my motion. The report from the Health Select Committee on my petition to Save the Lumsden Maternity Centre was also released. It proves what the community have been saying for the last year that the new hub model was not fit for purpose at the time of the downgrade. National has also already announced if elected next year, we will reinstate full services at Lumsden Maternity Centre, because we value rural people.
This Labour/Greens/NZ First Government announced that 16 polytechnics throughout NZ will be merged into one organisation. From 1 April 2020, the Southern Institute of Technology will be governed by a board of people from outside of Southland, and they will be doing everything to make sure that Southland has no competitive advantage over other polytechnics around the country. This Government purposely didn’t take into account submissions from SIT. National will give back regional polytechnic assets that this Government steals from Southland.
It has been a real privilege helping to achieve some positivity for Firoza Begum and Mohammad Kalim. On hearing the news Firoza was going to have to go back to Fiji earlier than planned, I wrote to the Associate Minister for Immigration and asked her to intervene. Receiving the good news that no deportation notice would be issued for the time being was a fantastic moment.
Finally, we had some positive news with $4.7m announced for SIT to run Telford over the next two years. A huge congratulations to the Telford Farm Board, Penny Simmonds and others who have succeeded in gaining this funding. After months of uncertainty, which was worsened by the polytech mega-merger announcement, this provides relief for Telford staff and students for the next two years at least. It does, however, pose questions about what it means for Telford’s assets.
It was a real privilege as the local MP to open the Trans-Tasman Rock Lobster Conference. Rock Lobster continues to be one of our highest exports and helps coastal communities thrive.
I hosted National’s Spokesperson for Local Government Jacqui Dean for two meetings in Gore and Balclutha to hear from business owners about the battles they are currently facing. It provided a great opportunity to hear about red tape issues as we prepare for 2020.
It was an honour to stand alongside the founders of Ag Proud NZ, Jason Herrick, Kerry Wilson, Allan Baird and Jon Pemberton in Invercargill recently. Full credit to these farmers for coming up with a way for New Zealand farmers to tell their positive stories.