November brought with it two damning reports released on the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade and the four emergency births. Although the Southern District Health Board made the terms of the review very clear to not look in to the decision to downgrade the centre at all, multiple failings were still revealed. Monday’s AM Show story also unveiled many more failings by the SDHB when it comes to Lumsden. I’m still lobbying hard for full services to be reinstated – it’s the least this Government and the DHB can do. Delving a bit deeper in the farming sector, DairyNZ’s reports revealed how much Southland is set to lose if the water proposals go ahead. A possible fall in GDP of 3.6% by 2050 or more than $200 million per year is incredibly scary. That is a lot of money not spent in hairdressers, cafés and mechanics. I’m advocating for all of you down here in this space as the flow-on effects will be hugely detrimental to the region.
It was great to get along to the West Otago A & P Show in the weekend – the first of many – and to catch up with many of you there. Thanks to the Bridgette and the local Clutha-Southland National team for manning the stall. I’ll be at South Otago this weekend so make sure you come along and say hi.
I attended the Nuffield evening announcing the Nuffield New Zealand Scholarships for 2020. Each year up to five scholarships are awarded to individuals who will spend a year or two undertaking extensive research in their chosen field. It was fantastic to celebrate passionate leaders in the agri-food sector destined for great things, including Southlander Ed Pinckney.
I lodged my Member’s Bill which will better protect our borders from biosecurity risks this month. The bill will work by increasing the immediate fine to those caught sneaking risk items across the border from $400 to $1000, increasing the conviction fee to $2000 and also strengthening biosecurity officers’ ability to refuse entry to non-New Zealand citizens or residents who knowingly break the law by bringing in risk items.
On Armistice Day I went along to the Otama Remembrance Day Memorial Service. What an incredible service, to appreciate those who have served and to remember those who have fallen under the bloodied flag brought back to and cared for by the community.
The New Zealand Agriculture Show was another great success this year and it was great to attend along with some of my fellow National MPs. Every year the show continues to grow, a real testament to the organisers.
I joined the 50 Shades of Green protestors on the steps of Parliament as they raised their concerns about blanket plantings of valuable pastoral land across New Zealand. They also shared their worry about the proposed water policies which would have crippling effects on our country.
I attended the official opening of the $9m emergency department at the Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown. A huge congrats to the Central Lakes Trust and Lakes District Hospital Foundation for donating the CT scanner.
I completed the Queenstown half marathon despite getting to the start line 35 mins late, blisters, having a few cramps along the way and a bleeding nose. A credit to the organisers as it is a truly world-class event. For those of you thinking about doing it – jump on board and have a go!
I joined many West Coasters at A Call to Action in Greymouth. The West Coast is very similar to Clutha-Southland in a number of ways. A Call to Action was a community-led event calling on the Government to stop putting the future of the West Coast at risk.
On the steps of Parliament, I received a petition urging the Government to fund life-saving technology and medication for diabetes. A huge thank you to everyone who signed this petition and Marsha Mackie who put in the hard yards getting a huge amount of support for this.