Take a bow each and every one of you reading this newsletter. We made it to Alert Level 1 and life is now beginning to return to normal within the borders of our country. Life though for our tourism sector and those associated is still anything but normal. As an industry heavily reliant on international visitors, they are still struggling and some have yet to even open their doors. I’ve been advocating hard for some clarity for those in the sector, especially in regards to the trans-Tasman bubble. Covid-19 has also brought with it various challenges for many sectors in the deep south. Dairy farmers have had significant issues with former-employees not leaving their on-farm accommodation because they do not have to after changes were made in response to Covid-19. I’ve also picked up some new portfolios within the National Party recently, and am now National’s Spokesperson for Forestry and Land Information, and Associate Spokesperson for Tourism. I’m looking forward to working with these sectors and being a strong voice for them in Parliament.
I’m honoured to be the new National Party Spokesperson for Forestry and Land Information and Associate Spokesperson for Tourism. I will work hard to be a strong voice for these sectors. Forestry is the third-largest exporter in our primary sector and the industry needs support to take advantage of this. Farmers have struggled with Land Information for decades when they need to be worked with not against which I will advocate for. Overseas investment is also hugely important, especially for areas like Queenstown, and we need to ensure New Zealand benefits from this. Tourism is one of our country’s largest exporters, making up about 16% of GDP, and the Lakes District is its heartbeat. I'm humbled to be taking on these roles as we look forward to rebuilding New Zealand.
It was disappointing in the budget announcement, the primary sector and tourism received very little. Clutha-Southland is driven by New Zealand’s two largest export earners which is these two industries. Together they contribute around 25% to New Zealand's GDP. In the budget, they were given less than 2% of new spending. This Government needs to get its priorities right and start showing more respect to our farmers and tourism operators.
It was fantastic to host new National Party leader Todd Muller in Queenstown recently, to announce National’s Tourism Accelerator Package. The $100m package to co-fund tourism projects will be led by the private sector, not government officials in Wellington. Throughout the day Todd heard first hand from employees and businesses about the situation they were now in with the battle the tourism sector is still facing because of Covid-19.
National has also announced our JobStart policy, where National will give small businesses a $10,000 per new employee cash injection for up to 10 new employees if elected.
Congratulations again to this year's well-deserving local Queens Birthday Honour recipients Tony Lepper ONZM for services to sports administration and local government, Avis Rishworth ONZM for services to women, Graham Jackson MNZM for services to the trades industry and business, Myra Jill (Billie) Tohill QSM for services to the community and Malcolm Walker QSM for services to sport and education. Congratulations to all the other recipients too, we are lucky to have so many wonderful people in our country.
I’ve been advocating for those dairy farmers who are facing significant problems with some employees on dairy farms not moving out of the accommodation provided for them on the farm, which was needed for new staff for the start of the new dairy season on June 1. I have raised this with the Government who are doing nothing about it. Their suggestion was to put new staff up in motels, or motorhomes nearby, which just isn’t convenient for anyone, let alone someone who has to be at the cowshed at 4am for cups-on.
I was lucky enough to visit Borland Lodge recently on recess week to meet some of the team who keep the facility running. Borland Lodge is one of the most remote lodges in Western Southland. The lodge is going through a hard time at the moment after months of bookings were cancelled because of Covid-19. It's run by a group of amazing Southlanders including John, Nancy, Don, Mike and managers Raewyn and Alan Lowe who I caught up with. You can donate to help them keep their gates open at https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/save-borland-lodge
I spent a few days in Te Anau, Gore, Mataura, Alexandra, Roxburgh and Tapanui in the last recess week, catching up with many locals. It was great to visit Ernslaw One while in Tapanui visiting a couple of their logging operations and also stopping in on the Southern Institute of Technology Expo in Te Anau for tourism workers displaced by Covid-19.