The winter weather is certainly fast approaching and I hope each and every one of you enjoyed Easter with your friends and family. It’s been great to see Clutha get some reprieve from incredibly dry conditions and here’s hoping there is still time for enough grass and crop growth for winter.
While it is hard to believe May is already here, we’ve had some success in the last month. The Government has backed down on a Capital Gains Tax. Sadly, the New Zealand economy has suffered while the Government has had a public discussion about a policy they couldn’t agree on. Unlike the Government, National has a plan when it comes to the economy. We won’t introduce any new taxes in our first term and we will index tax brackets to inflation. We believe hard-working Kiwis deserve to keep more of what they earn.
It was great to also spend some time with the St John Gore team as part of their annual appeal. In areas like Clutha-Southland, organisations like St John are crucial and it was fantastic to see so many people reach into their pockets for such a worthy organisation.
We made history in Queenstown with the New Zealand Parliamentary Rugby team playing its first ever game in the resort town early in April. Twenty-two parliamentarians and staff took the field against the Blair Vining Invitational Side at the Rec Ground. Blair’s not a man who needs much introducing in Southland, but his idea, foundation and passion, should always make headlines. The charity rugby match saw funds raised go to Garston School and the Blair Vining Sports Foundation.
Every year the Parliamentary Rugby team plays four games throughout New Zealand, and I was thrilled to bring them to Queenstown for the first time. It was great to see such an outpour of support from the local community and those from throughout Southland who travelled up for the game. A massive thank you again to all the businesses in the region and individuals who reached into their pockets to donate auction items, money and even time.
I was privileged to speak at the Gore and Te Anau Anzac Services on April 25, where both communities gathered to remember those who served our nation. On Anzac Day every year we all come together and stand side by side as one to remember the fallen.
It’s also a time to reflect on events that shaped our country’s proud history and it is heart-warming to see more and more younger people attending every year. Lest we forget.
Balclutha Police Station
I've launched a petition to reinstate the 24/7 staffing of the Balclutha Police Station. Last month I spent the day visiting businesses around Balclutha, Milton, Kaitangata, Kaka Point, Clinton and Owaka gathering signatures and dropping in petitions for people to sign.
Recently the Government announced its U-turn on National's decision to staff the Balclutha Police Station 24/7. It makes no sense as the South Otago community is in dire need for full-time staffing of its station with drug issues facing the community. I would greatly appreciate your support.
Lumsden Maternity Centre
We received sad news in April that the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade would go ahead. Unfortunately, the Health Minister didn’t listen to my pleas and the Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded. This was despite me appealing to him and asking for the downgrade to be delayed until the Health Select Committee has decided whether to investigate the downgrade decision.
It is an incredibly sad time for not only the Lumsden community but the wider Southland community to lose this vital centre. We tried everything possible to save the centre – a protest march, a petition and appeals to the Labour/NZ First Government and the Southern District Health Board. We now wait with anticipation for the Health Select Committee’s decision on whether to investigate the downgrade decision.
On a personal note, I want to let you know that Penny and I have made the decision to move to Queenstown so that I can be in closer proximity to an airport. After eighteen months living in rural Balclutha, I have calculated that I can spend an extra half day in the electorate every week if I relocate to Queenstown. This will enable me to travel to Wellington on Tuesday morning rather than spending my entire Monday afternoon driving to Dunedin to catch the last direct flight to Wellington. I am looking forward to spending a full Monday in the electorate, travelling home to Queenstown in the evening to catch the first flight to Wellington the next morning. I anticipate that during the course of a year this will allow for 30-40 more half days within the electorate working for my constituents and attending party events.