Take a bow Southland and pat yourselves on the back.
As we mark off two weeks in lockdown, the vast majority of you are adhering to the rules and staying at home.
Here in the southern district, we have the most cases of Covid-19, as of Tuesday, this was 187.
It is an incredibly unnerving time for a lot of us, concerned about our health, our family, our friends and the future of our country.
Here in Southland, the freezing works capacity is down up to 60% at some sites which is causing headaches for some farmers.
Farmers are in a tricky spot as they can’t run high stock levels through winter because they can’t get their lambs to the works and there is a shortage of feed about due to the recent flooding.
Farmers by nature though are always dealing with crises.
Whether it’s weather, commodity prices, currency exchange rates and more recently a wave of government policy coming at them.
Our country’s wealth has been built of the back of farming and it should come to no surprise that the primary industries will soften the huge blow to our economy caused by COVID-19.
Thank you to the farmers, growers, freezing workers, truck drivers and all the other essential workers for feeding us and bringing in much-needed revenue to our country at this time.
Another risk facing New Zealand right now is international arrivals.
The National Party has been calling for the quarantine of all international arrivals to New Zealand to stop the spread of COVID-19.
We need to focus on this, as it is our biggest risk.
It was welcomed news on Monday to hear butchers, bakers and greengrocers can sell their products online or over the phone if the order and delivery are contactless.
The government did a good job of locking down the country within 48 hours when they decided to do so. I support this action.
In saying that, I believe the government’s action, or lack of, over the next couple of weeks could set the course of direction for our country for the next five years.
The Government needs to be giving details of the conditions that will enable an easing of the alert levels, and when Southland will be able to function normally again. If normal functioning is not possible, the Government needs to tell us what restrictions will be put in place and what support there will be for businesses?
The Government needs to be providing details to us now so businesses can plan.
Sir Bill English once said to me “Hamish, its uncertainty which kills business and the economy. People can live with negative decisions that affect them, but you need to tell them so they can plan.”
That couldn’t be truer right now as we need some certainty from the Government about what post lockdown will look like to ensure we get out of COVID-19 in the best possible shape.