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As this is my first Advocate South column, I want to start off by saying a massive thank you to all who voted in the 2017 General Election, including, but not limited to, those who did so for the National Party and for me.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months since I was honoured with this important job, but it all really hit home when I stood up last Tuesday to deliver my maiden speech – my first official words spoken in Parliament – in front of the House of Representatives with my family and friends above me in the public gallery. It was a very humbling experience.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles and beliefs, your life and your achievements, your vision for the electorate you serve - and set the tone for your time in Parliament.

Trying to sum up this up in 15 minutes is harder than you might think!

I spoke about my journey into politics and put on record my commitment to work hard for the Clutha-Southland electorate.

Clutha-Southland is proudly the largest general electorate in New Zealand, made up of 34 towns and communities.

All of these communities have differing needs and local issues and deserve my unique representation.

There are multiple challenges ahead and I hope to be able to contribute to the delivery of tangible gains across a number of sectors, in particular primary industries, education, trade, and tourism.

Right now in Clutha-Southland, we should not be cutting off the hands that literally feed us, from farmers in Gore and Winton, to hospitality workers in Fiordland and Queenstown.

One of my key priorities will be putting pressure on the new government to ensure immigration settings allow business owners and primary producers across Southland and Otago to have the workforce to process goods.

Clutha-Southland has around two per cent of the population and produces over 15 per cent of the country’s GDP. We need to keep our workers to help produce the goods from the region, and to keep the people flowing through our small towns. Our migrant workforce contributes to our diversity and keeps our towns afloat.

It’s been all go since being elected on September 23. The emails and phone calls of issues to help with have been flowing and, in between the formalities of the opening of the 52nd Parliament, caucus and select committee meetings in Wellington, I’ve been busy getting stuck in to these.

I was pleased to be able to work closely with Anna Penn, the NZTA, Southland District Council and other key stakeholders to help resolve the issue of dead flax along the popular Southern Scenic Route. It just goes to show what the community can achieve by working together.

Going forward, it’s essential for me to get your feedback about what's important to you - your ideas, concerns, hopes and aspirations for your community. Together, we can make a difference.

Feel free to pop into my any of my offices with any queries you may have, or you can email me your thoughts at: hamish.walkermp@parliament.govt.nz.

I’m looking forward to working with you all.

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