Happy New Year.
I hope you all managed some sort of time off over the Christmas and New Year period spent with family and friends.
Last year was a big year for Southland and there are still many challenges ahead, which flow-on from ill-thought-out Government policies.
Farmers are facing their biggest battle of a generation in the proposed freshwater policies.
The water policies, which proposes nutrient limits that in many situations are unachievable, will cost the region millions and the flow on-effect could destroy our rural towns.
They will also force some farmers off the land.
We wait with anticipation for April to see if this Government has listened to the 17,000 people who submitted.
The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), the best polytechnic in the country, still faces some big questions in 2020.
The polytechnic mega-merger will mean SIT will lose its autonomy, and therefore, what makes it so great.
National will return decision making powers to SIT – to the people who know it best.
More issues continue to come to light on the failings around the downgrade of the Lumsden Maternity Centre.
All of this could have been avoided had the two local list MPs voted for an independent investigation in to the downgrade decision.
National will reinstate full services if elected this year within our first 100 days in government.
Then there is the Tiwai smelter which also faces an uncertain future at present.
We ask the question of whether this Government will continue on its anti-the-regions crusade and let this shut too?
It is becoming more and more evident this Government does not care about us down here in Southland.
Allocating money to a few projects does not save the thousands of jobs they are willing to take away or protect the hundreds of mothers and babies who needed Lumsden, or support our farmers facing never-ending rules and regulations – the backbone of this country.
I believe 2020 will bring with it the continued social experiment the south is for this Government.
They do need to remember though, we might not be big but we are strong and we won’t forget the damage they have done.