Just like that and March has been and gone - a month filled with ups and downs. We changed alert levels, there was speculation a trans-Tasman bubble announcement was coming, only to be disappointed by an announcement about an announcement and the Government delayed implementing changes to the winter grazing rules until next year. On the ground in Southland, I’ve been right across the electorate with National Party branch AGMs and visiting various areas with my National colleagues. I can assure you we are working hard in Wellington to make sure your voices are being heard.
On another note, I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy Easter for this coming weekend. Enjoy the time with your family and friends and enjoy the long weekend if you can. A special mention to those of you who will be working this holiday period - I hope you will enjoy a well-deserved break soon too.
It was great to visit Pete Wilkinson at Northern Southland College earlier in the month. Some fantastic upgrades are going on at the school and the students were incredibly enthusiastic to get in to the new spaces. By now, they should be learning in the upgraded rooms.
I hosted National’s Spokesperson for Energy and Resources and Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger in Central Otago recently for meetings with concerned members of the community re Aurora’s proposed price increases. We also visited Matangi Station while she was here. Matangi Station is an incredible high country farm and the merino stud is remarkable and a real testament to the Sanders’ family.
I again wrote to the Minister of Tourism, raising my concerns about the inaction by this Government to support our businesses in Te Anau and Queenstown, suffering because of Covid-19. I again reiterated businesses need certainty re a trans-Tasman bubble so they could plan. While there was speculation an announcement was coming in this space, it was disappointing it was just an announcement about a potential announcement date. I also spoke in the General Debate on this issue and called on the Government to listen to the epidemiologists who are now telling us that a trans-Tasman border with Australia can be managed safely using a traffic light system.
I hosted National’s Spokesperson for Tourism Todd McClay for meetings in both Te Anau and Queenstown on the topic of the trans-Tasman bubble and lack of support being offered to our communities. The message was very clear from businesses the Government needed to share its plan about the criteria required for a trans-Tasman bubble with them, if it has one.
After attending the West Otago Community Board meeting, I visited Antony Criglington at Tapanui School. It was really insightful to hear from him and some of the staff and to see some of the upgrades the school has undertaken.
Wanaka put on the sun for the annual A & P Show. Myself and colleagues Dr Shane Reti, Michael Woodhouse, Penny Simmonds were all hosted by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean at the event.
It was awesome to take part in the Coro1200 race series organised by the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club. It was 1200 vertical metres of timed racing from the top of Coronet Peak to the bottom of Arrowtown.
We managed a round of golf in Papakura with National leader Judith Collins. A great day was had by all.
I celebrated the Holi Festival in the weekend in Queenstown. Well done to the organisers on another successful event.
Presenting my maiden speech in the house was an incredible experience and thank you to those of you who tuned in for the event. It is a real honour and privilege to be your Member of Parliament for Southland.
I joined Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds and National’s Spokesperson for Agriculture David Bennett on a visit to Alliance’s Lorneville Plant. Alliance is the single biggest employer in Southland and is a farmers’ co-operative which supplies locally grown meat not only nationally but internationally, to more than 65 countries.
Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds and I wrote to the Environment Minister, expressing our concern about freshwater rules in their current state. It was pleasing the Minister listened to our calls to an extent and announced the implementation of these rules would be delayed until 2022. There is more to be done in this space and I will be following the issue closely and advocating for our farmers.
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