Latest News

Government ignoring democratic process in Three Waters steamroll

October 27, 2021 Share

The Government’s decision to push through legislation so it can steamroll ahead with its Three Waters Reforms shows a complete disregard for the voices of New Zealanders and due democratic process, MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says.

“It is extraordinary to see the Labour Government push through legislation to allow the establishment of four entities which will strip councils of their ownership and control of local water assets.”

“This is an asset grab and a clear case of the Government again doing whatever it wants regardless of how strongly New Zealanders object to their overwhelming desire for centralisation.”

Read more

Mooney has first Member's Bill drawn

September 24, 2021 Share

A bill to strengthen the protection of Māori land and stem fragmentation has today been drawn from the ballot, MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says.

“There are more than 27,000 blocks of Māori land under the present Te Ture Whenua Māori Act comprising of 1.4 million hectares, about 5 per cent of the total land mass of New Zealand.

“Large tracts of Māori land are under-performing for owners, largely due to constraints stemming from the current legislation. Fragmentation is getting worse, not better, and there are still thousands of owners who remain disconnected from their land.

“This law change seeks to improve the performance and productivity of Māori land, which will provide millions of dollars for the economic and cultural benefit of owners.

“The right of Māori land owners to retain, control, occupy and develop their whenua themselves as a taonga tuku iho for the benefit of present and future generation will be protected.

“The legislation is based on the fundamental principles that Māori land endures as taonga tuku iho by virtue of whakapapa, that tikanga Māori is central to matters involving Māori land, and that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is central to the application of laws affecting Māori land.

“Owners will finally be able to set rules making it harder to dispose of Māori land and will be able to design their own governance arrangements. The law will recognise the mana of decision making sits with the owners, not with the court.

“It’s time Māori are trusted to know what’s best for themselves.”

 

Watch the drawing of Mooney's member's bill here:

https://fb.watch/8cZdn4uJ0t/

Lakes Weekly Bulletin Column - September

September 14, 2021 Share

Check out my latest column in both the Lakes Weekly Bulletin - published September 13.

 

Outstanding is the only way to describe the Queenstown community’s reaction to New Zealand’s recent Delta outbreak.

After an incredibly trying 18 months, our town was again asked to make huge sacrifices for the safety of not only our own region, but the whole of New Zealand.
In typical Queenstown style, our residents rallied together to do what was needed.

Read more

Government must support Central Otago and Te Anau businesses

September 10, 2021 Share

MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says the Government must act urgently to support struggling Queenstown businesses as well as those across Central Otago and in Te Anau.

“COVID has had a devastating effect on the Queenstown economy, which has been pushed to another extreme by the recent shutdown of businesses during Alert Levels 3 and 4.”

“The results of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce’s recent survey should send a clear message to the Government – Queenstown businesses need support now.”

“For 90% of businesses to report they’ve lost turnover of up to $100,000 per week during Level 4 and for 25% to report they do not expect they will recover from the effects of the recent lockdown shows how dire the situation is here.”

“It should also provide the Government with all of the prompting it needs to take urgent action.”

Mooney says the Government cannot keep ignoring the pleas of the business communities of Central Otago and Te Anau.

“Businesses in Central Otago and Te Anau have been in a fight for their survival for 18 months, the Government simply cannot ignore them any longer.”

Mooney says the Government’s response to the impacts of COVID19 on Central Otago and Fiordland’s economies so far have failed to acknowledge the extraordinary circumstances their towns have faced during the pandemic.

“The contributions of small and medium sized businesses have underpinned the incredible contribution of these regions to New Zealand’s visitor numbers and the New Zealand economy.”

“For decades these regions have made incredible contributions to New Zealand’s economy and international reputation.”

“The safety of our nation had to come first and regions like Queenstown and Te Anau took what I would describe as the biggest hits of any in New Zealand.”

“It’s time to properly support those who have sacrificed their livelihoods for this country.”

“The bottom line is small to medium businesses cannot keep paying for fixed costs while shut down or operating well below capacity, like they are in Level 2-D.”

“The Government’s offers of support fail to recognise the impact that sustaining those fixed costs are having on these businesses.”

“It’s time the Government recognised what a unique position areas like Central Otago and Te Anau are in.”

Mooney says a meaningful support package for businesses across Central Otago and Te Anau must be offered as soon as possible.

Lack of ventilators left Otago and Southland unprepared for Delta

September 10, 2021 Share

MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says the Minister of Health must ensure Southland and Otago are prepared for the possibility of a community outbreak of Covid-19 following two lucky escapes.

After making extensive enquiries about the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) catchment’s readiness to respond to a community outbreak, Mooney was extremely disappointed when Health Minister Andrew Little told him prior to the recent Level 4 Lockdown that SDHB hospitals had access to just 20 ventilators.

What was even more concerning was that the Ministry of Health didn’t know which hospitals had each of the ventilators.

“Kiwis watched as the Delta variant spread rapidly across Australia,” Mooney says.
“Southland Hospital was pushed to the brink by the intensive care of just two sailors with Covid at the beginning of August.”

“It is incredibly disappointing that despite those warning signs, the Ministry of Health didn’t even know where our region’s ventilators were.”

“As it turned out, there were just 20 of them to cover the SDHB’s massive catchment area with a population of around 350,000 people.”

“This is an extraordinary failure of governance.”

“Astonishingly, little had changed in the 18 months since last year’s Level 4 Lockdown.’

“Our communities have made incredible sacrifices to keep COVID out through last year’s lockdown periods.”

“That was necessary because our health system did not have the resources to cope and we all accepted that.”

“However the failure to stock southern hospitals with more ventilators in the 18 months that followed is a case of negligence.”

“There is no excuse for the Ministry of Health not to have been working with the SDHB to properly stock its hospitals with a critical tool that doctors and nurses need to use to care for seriously ill Covid patients.”

“We weren’t prepared for the last year’s nationwide lockdown, but there is no good reason for being so unprepared for the lockdown this August.”

Minister Little has revealed in a reply to a recent Parliamentary Written Question that the SDBH has now increased its stock of ventilators since Mooney first starting asking questions.

The SDHB now has 47 ventilators, with 38 in Dunedin ICU, 8 in Southland ICU and one in a fixed-wing aircraft.

Mooney says he is pleased to see an increase in the number of ventilators since he first started asking questions and that the Minister and the Ministry of Health now knows where the ventilators are.

However, Mooney would like to see a bigger commitment made to prepare the southern region adequately for the possibility of any future community outbreak.

That means addressing serious staffing shortfalls, as well as increasing ventilator stocks further and having the necessary equipment and supplies in SDHB hospitals.

“Our region desperately needs more doctors and nurses, we have seriously overworked staff and we have migrant staff who have been separated from their children for over 18 months because there is no space for them in MIQ.”

“The Government needs to do everything it can to look after the doctors and nurses in New Zealand, as well as making sure we can get as many as possible through our border to ensure our health system is adequately staffed in the event of another outbreak.”

Mooney says he would like to thank all healthcare workers in the southern region for working so hard and diligently to care for our community through this challenging time.

Central Otago News & Ensign Columns - September

September 09, 2021 Share

Check out my recent columns in both the Central Otago News and The Ensign.

 

Central Otago News column - published September 9.


Health Of River Is Vital

 

Cool heads and a common›sense approach must prevail as the Central Otago region faces a wave of issues relating to water.

Late last month I supported the decision of the majority of ORC councillors who voted to ask for more scientific information to be tabled before they decide on minimum flows for the Manuherikia River.

Read more

Specialist wait times put Children’s futures at risk

September 08, 2021 Share

A paediatric orthopaedic patient waiting more than 520 days for an appointment with a Southern District Health Board (SDHB) specialist is completely unacceptable, MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says.

“Children’s bodies are developing and constantly changing, so to have a child waiting nearly 18 months to see a specialist is deeply concerning,” Mr Mooney says.

“This shouldn’t be how we treat our young people in this region.”

In a response to a Parliamentary Written Question, Minister of Health Andrew Little advised Mr Mooney that as at August 16 2021, there were 122 patients under-16 waiting for a first appointment to see a SDHB orthopaedic specialist.

Of those on the waitlist, one patient had been waiting 521 days.

“The Southern DHB website lists 18 orthopaedic surgeons working at either Southland or Dunedin hospitals.”

“We have seen the issues they have had keeping up with adult orthopaedic lists, the question now must be asked – how much of an effect has this had on children’s orthopaedic services?”

“If paediatric orthopaedic issues in children are not addressed it can leave them with problems that they must face their entire adult lives.”

“We need to do everything we can to avoid that from happening.”

“The positive flow on effect of early treatment is that these patients will require less specialist orthopaedic care in the future.”

Mr Mooney says that the Ministry of Health and the SDHB must improve their oversight of paediatric orthopaedic surgery waiting lists in the south to ensure appropriate resourcing is available to avoid more young people facing unacceptable wait times.

“The orthopaedic surgeons can only do so much and the last thing they would want is being in a position where they cannot assist patients whose problems, if not treated now, could cause life-long issues.”

“SDHB management are being forced to move from crisis to crisis without addressing some of the critical health needs of the Southern population.”

Mooney has been vocal on a number of healthcare issues in Otago and Southland and has lobbied for marked improvements in areas such as cancer treatment and maternity services.

The MP says the Minister of Health’s oversight of health services in the region hasn’t been up to scratch and it is having a disturbing effect on the lives of his constituents.

“Labour did away with National Health Targets which took away accountability and reporting on performance.”

“The result has been patients being left behind. Information is power, and you can’t improve what you don’t track and measure.”

Mooney says the proposed restructure of the New Zealand health system by the Government could make more patients vulnerable as putting almost $500 million into paying bureaucrats to create what could be another flawed system won’t result in more hospital beds, more health staff, and an expansion of services in key areas.

Government must press pause on Three Waters Reforms

September 08, 2021 Share

Check out my Southland Times column from September 2.

 

New Zealand’s history books are filled with free and open debates on issues that are of the utmost importance to our communities.

Our country has a proud democratic history and having our say is a part of our way of life.

Right now there is plenty of conjecture around the Government’s Three Waters Reforms and rightly so.

But that conversation hasn’t been free and open.

At the moment almost all the discussion around the massive changes to New Zealand’s community drinking water, wastewater and drain water assets has been held in the media.

At last count 22 of 28 South Island councils have called for a pause on the 3 Waters reform process.

That number includes every relevant local government body in Otago and Southland.

Councils across New Zealand are making their stances public through news reports and interviews in an effort to be heard because the Government isn’t listening to their concerns.

That’s despite the bill for the implementation of the 3 Waters reforms being estimated to be between $120 billion to $185 billion.

The combined voices of our councils say they don’t have enough information on why they should hand over ownership of all of their water assets to an entity that stretches towards the top of the South Island.

Councils have also said they feel the Government is rushing them through the reform process.

That combination is a recipe for disaster, especially considering what is at stake - a once in a generation change.

The answer is simple.

The Government must hit pause on these landmark reforms and then address council concerns by engaging with them and the public in a free and transparent conversation on the merits of the 3 Waters Reforms.

It’s not only the right thing to do and the sensible thing to do, it’s the lawful thing to do.

The Local Government Act has a process to ensure democracy across New Zealand’s regions by making it a legal requirement for councils to consult their communities and their ratepayers on major changes to their priorities and their resources.

The Government’s handling of the 3 Waters process has ignored that legal requirement.

Pausing the 3 Waters process would allow councils to fulfil their legal obligations by giving them time to engage their communities.

The Government first has to give councils all the information they need, so that councils can have meaningful consultation with their communities.

Together with a proper dialogue from the Government, councils will be able to make informed decisions on the future of their water assets.

There should be no rush when it comes to implementing once in a generation change.

Taking a patient approach has the added benefit of allowing local government bodies to focus on what is most important right now.

New Zealanders have made huge sacrifices during Level 4 lockdown and the price individuals and businesses are paying will last many times longer than the two weeks that Southlanders were forced to stay at home and in their essential jobs.

Councils shouldn’t be spending the recovery period fighting the Government for a fair hearing over the ownership of water pipes and pumps.

Supporting communities and their local economies should be their focus right now, and the Government should give them the time and space to do so.

At the same time Government should also be focusing all of its efforts to protect our communities from the pandemic, rather than getting side tracked with yet another massive project.

 

Sensible approach taken with Manuherikia River minimum flows

August 27, 2021 Share

MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says the Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) decision to seek more scientific advice before making crucial decisions about the future of the Manuherikia River is the right one.

ORC councillors have voted to seek more scientific detail on a range of factors, which will provide more information for the setting the river’s minimum flows.

Mooney says he applauds the councillors’ move to take a calm, well-rounded and science-backed approach before making crucial decisions about what he describes as an incredibly vital natural resource.

Read more

Mooney outlines vision for farming in new video

August 26, 2021 Share

MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says discussions need to continue on the wide array of Government regulations set to significantly increase pressure on our farming communities.

Farmers took to the streets in a nationwide protest last month to voice their displeasure with the approach Labour and Greens Ministers have been taking with issues including water supply and services, water quality and biodiversity and vehicle taxation.

Mooney says after having their backs against the wall, the farming community has shown their resilience and renowned practical attitude by getting on with the job during New Zealand’s Level 4 Lockdown.

Read more