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May already and our battle with Covid-19 continues. Every one of you reading this must pat yourselves on the back. At the time of writing this, we have had 16 days straight in the southern district with no new Covid-19 cases. On Monday we also had the first day since lockdown of no new cases at all in New Zealand. It has been a challenging time though and continues to be for large parts of Clutha-Southland. In Queenstown, the maternity unit at the hospital is being renovated and as a result, mothers were having to head outside to shower which has now been resolved and I also presented a petition signed by more than 4800 people to the Government to return some flight services to Queenstown. In the rural sector, our farmers are facing a few challenges with pressures on the freezing works, which I’ve been advocating to get back up to capacity. We’ve also had the electorate boundaries announced for the 2020 and 2023 general elections, which means a new name for Clutha-Southland. While it’s not business as usual, I’m still busy fighting for you and encourage you if you need help in any way, get in touch with me by emailing hamish.walkermp@parliament.govt.nz.


I had many people get in touch with me in regards to the maternity services situation at the Lakes District Hospital. Due to the renovations ongoing in the maternity ward and Covid-19, maternity services had been shifted to the dental clinic and women were having to head outside for a shower. This was not good enough. I’d been in touch with both the Southern District Health Board and the Health Minister expressing my concerns so was pleased to hear yesterday services were being returned to the main building on Thursday (May 7).


I presented my petition to the Government to return some flight services to Queenstown which more than 4800 people had signed. The south has no flight services at all with the closest airport being Dunedin which is three and a half hours drive away. We need flights here for many reasons which include travelling to medical appointments, migrants trying to get home, for work purposes, connecting with family, freight services and more. The Government have said there is no demand for flights but Air New Zealand has come out and said there is. We rely on flights to connect us to the rest of the country, so we hope they will listen to our calls.


I’ve been having regular contact with many farmers in the region about the position our freezing works are in. Due to the restrictions at Alert Level 4, capacity had dropped dramatically. At Alert Level 3, the processing is beginning to increase, with the beef chain now running at 80% and lamb at about 60%. There is still a way to go before winter though, to make sure farmers are not having to carry excess stock.


Last month, the Electoral Commission released the new electorate boundaries for the 2020 and 2023 elections. Clutha-Southland will be renamed to Southland and we will lose Clutha, including Milton, Balclutha and Lawrence to the new Taieri electorate as well as Western Southland, including Otauatau, Tuatapere and Ohai Nightcaps to Invercargill. Taieri National candidate Liam Kernaghan is a great member of the National Party and will work incredibly hard for the area. The new National candidate for Invercargill will be announced in the next couple of weeks. As a result, Southland welcomes Alexandra, Clyde, Roxburgh, Ettrick and Millers Flat to the electorate. I look forward to working hard for you.  

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