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Life at Alert Level 2 is bringing with it the signs of some normality.

I’ve been back in Wellington as the house has been sitting, with the only change being some of us taking part from what is usually the public gallery.

As a country, we have done a fantastic job of getting on top of Covid-19 and to date, we are winning the battle.

The next stage is our economic recovery, which will be just as much of a battle as getting on top of the disease was in the first stage.

National is renowned for getting New Zealand’s economy going when needed and has the team to get us through.

I was honoured to be recently announced as National’s Spokesperson for Forestry, Spokesperson for Land Information and Associate Spokesperson for Tourism.

Forestry is the third-largest exporter in our primary sector and the industry needs support to take advantage of this, not a flawed billion trees policy which is crippling rural New Zealand.

Land Information has been an area hundreds of high country farmers have struggled with for decades when they should, in fact, be focusing on working with these farmers.

Tourism is one of our country’s largest exporters, making up about 16% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the Lakes District is its heartbeat.

All of these sectors need strong teams to get them through the battle ahead, and I will work hard to be an advocate for those in the industries.

Lately, I’ve been getting some feedback from those in our primary sector and others about the proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

While the submission process closed in March there is still no date for when a summary of submissions will be released.

I know a lot of you voiced your concerns about not only the cost implications but also the deterrent the statement brings with it around diversifying properties due to the restrictions this imposes.

The costs associated with the proposed NPS for Southland are huge with the Southland District Council airing it is incredibly alarmed at the millions ratepayers would have to fork out to meet the requirements of this policy – and that’s only in the initial stages.

More than half of the region is deemed a Significant Natural Area which means farmers and people are limited in what they can do with these areas.

What makes matters worse is it doesn’t matter if plants or trees are native, if they attract native species it means what can be done with that area is restricted.

For some farmers, this will be large amounts of their properties.

Biodiversity under this plan becomes a liability as it attracts regulation, restriction and cost.

While this is clearly not the intention of the proposed statement, it is what will happen if goes ahead in its current form.

Farmers need support not regulation and despite farmers getting us through Covid-19, it appears this counts for nothing with this current Government.

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