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Slash inquiry won't be about forestry - Joseph Mooney

February 27, 2023 Share

National's Forestry spokesperson Joseph Mooney says that the Prime Minister and his Forestry Minister seem to be at odds on what the forestry slash inquiry will focus on.

“Only three days after the Prime Minister announced a ministerial inquiry into forestry slash, Forestry Minister Stuart Nash said on Q+A on Sunday that the inquiry won’t be about forestry, only land use.

“This raises serious questions about whether the inquiry will address community concerns about woody debris and the role of forestry slash following cyclone Hale and Gabrielle. This would be a major let-down for communities seeking answers.

"Mr Nash also mentioned slash traps as a possible solution but said those are not within his ministerial responsibility and instead consenting for those is the responsibility of councils.

“However, previous reports Mr Nash has received warned that it was becoming harder to get resource consents for slash traps because of regulatory issues that the Minister is responsible for.

“Mr Nash has delayed acting on those previous warnings for almost three years, despite receiving them in 2020 and the Labour Government declaring a Climate Emergency the same year.

“It is increasingly looking like the Government and its Minister is doing everything it can to avoid responsibility by setting the Ministerial Inquiry up for failure at a time when New Zealanders need answers and urgent action.”

Labour failed to act after multiple slash reviews

February 23, 2023 Share

National welcomes the inquiry into forestry slash but it asks why the Labour Government’s failed to act on the back of earlier reviews, National’s Forestry spokesperson Joseph Mooney says.

“Since Labour came into office in 2017, two reviews that warned the Labour Government about the increased risks posed by forestry slash have been completed, but five years later, Forestry Minister Stuart Nash is yet to announce any action.

“A review of slash management which began in 2018 warned of increased incidents of extreme rain and the damage forestry slash could cause.

“In 2022, Mr Nash kicked off further consultation that included a review of the findings from 2018. While that was completed in November, Mr Nash confirmed this week that he is yet to take action as he awaits advice from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Mr Nash and his colleagues have let down both communities on the East Coast and Hawkes’ Bay, as well as the forestry industry through their failure to address the issue.

“Despite declaring a climate emergency and receiving warnings about the impact of forestry slash in extreme weather, the Labour Government has done nothing in response. Communities affected by forestry slash need action.

“National supports an investigation if it leads to better management of slash. Forestry is an important contributor to the New Zealand economy, especially in regional areas.”

Parliamentary News from Joseph Mooney - Summer Edition 2022

December 16, 2022 Share

It's hard to believe that it's Christmas time again. It feels like not so long ago that we celebrated the start of 2022. 

It ended up being a year full of twists and turns, and 2023 is shaping up to be equally fast-paced as we head into an election year when the country will decide who is best fit to govern.

2022 will be a year known for a rising cost of living crisis, with the highest annual increase in food prices since 2008 and increasing lawlessness and youth offending through ram raids.

It's also one where Labour pushed through its flawed Three Waters Bill despite all other political parties voting against it. I hosted Three Waters public meetings in Te Anau, Winton, Gore and Alexandra and presented Groundswell NZ's petition to the petitions secretariat so that it can be heard by the Parliamentary Petitions Committee in the new year.

Labour also unleashed their ill-considered farm emissions pricing proposal on the agricultural sector, which would see sheep and beef farming reduced by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030 and pile on regulations and costs on farmers. Our farmers are already the most carbon-efficient food producers in the world, and it's unfair that they are being targeted by Labour.

Workforce shortages across the healthcare, tourism and hospitality industries have been a hallmark of this year, too, due to the Government's poor immigration policy settings and failure to act sooner to get workers into the country despite warnings of the consequences of not doing so.

But 2022 has also been a year of joyous celebrations. We saw the return of large events to our Southland region, like the Queenstown Marathon, the Tour of Southland, New Zealand's first ever e-bike festival Cyclorama New Zealand kicking off in Arrowtown, the Grand Opening of the Kingston Flyer Steam Train, and Alexandra hosting its first-ever South Asian Cultural Festival.

I've continued championing local causes that include NZ Post's postal delivery service failure in Hanley's Farm while advocating for cycle trails in the region, such as the Lake 2 Lake Cycle Trail from Te Anau to Manapouri and the Roxburgh Gorge Trail in Central Otago.

I joined the "Peeps not Sheeps" campaign to highlight the plight of communities in parts of Queenstown disadvantaged by the Government's outdated Accommodation Supplement subsidy rules. I also opposed the Government's plans to close the Milford Sounds Airport after over seventy years of iconic history.

I have, throughout the year, petitioned Ministers to address the ongoing workforce shortages across the tourism and hospitality industries and in our region's rural health, maternity and aged care sectors. I enjoyed joining the "Shear 4 Blair" Shearathon campaign in support of raising funds for the Southland Charity Hospital earlier this year too.

While 2022 has been a test of resilience for many, it's time to press that reset button for a new year with new opportunities.

Put up that tree, plan that holiday with family, go to that festival. Because you deserve it!

My offices will be closed for the annual parliamentary shutdown between 21 December 2022 and 9 January 2023. In an emergency, you can reach us by email at [email protected].

Thank you for your strong support this year, and I look forward to reconnecting with you in 2023. It will be an important year for all of us, and if you'd like to know more about how you can contribute to its success, please do not hesitate to contact me.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Joseph Mooney

National's Spokesperson for Space congratulates Rocket Lab on CAPSTONE success

November 18, 2022 Share

National’s Spokesperson for Space, Joseph Mooney MP, congratulates Rocket Lab on the historic milestone of the CAPSTONE CubeSat spacecraft reaching the Moon’s orbit recently after being launched from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand.

“I was delighted by the news that CAPSTONE has completed another phase of its journey by arriving at its Moon orbit as part of NASA’s Artemis “Return to the Moon” mission”, says Mr Mooney.

“This historical event took place while I was hosting my inaugural Catalysing the Otago-Southland Space Industry event in Queenstown to discuss benefits to the region of New Zealand's progress as a space-faring nation, making the occasion particularly poignant.

“Five months ago, on 28 June, I was at Rocket Lab’s mission control to witness the historic launch of CAPSTONE from New Zealand on behalf of NASA. The news that it has successfully reached the Moon is simply phenomenal.

“To put this moment into perspective, when CAPSTONE reached Earth’s nearest neighbour, it was the first ever CubeSat to do so.

“It is also worth pointing out that this is the same orbit that will be used by Gateway, the Moon-orbiting Space Station with humans on board that will support NASA’s Artemis missions”, Mr Mooney says.

“It is hard to believe that twenty years ago, only a handful of nation-states could launch into Space. In a short time, New Zealand has become only the 11th country in the world to launch a spacecraft into orbit and the 6th country to launch a spacecraft to the Moon.

“This was a historic step in the world’s endeavours to return humans to the Moon. I commend Rocket Lab for bringing us closer to that goal.

“While it is still early days for the Space industry in New Zealand, we are already a true space-faring nation."


Govt immigration policies fail Fiordland businesses

October 17, 2022 Share

The Government's immigration changes to the Skilled Migrant Category and Working Holiday Visa are too little, too late for some Fiordland businesses, MP for Southland, Joseph Mooney, says.


"Serious questions need to be asked as to why the Government has failed Fiordland businesses who, according to a recent survey of 32 businesses, report that they are short more than 244 workers this season.


At least 28 of those businesses indicated that due to ongoing worker shortages, many are closing for days, blocking out bed spaces and guest nights, and operating with shorter hours due to an inability to meet customers' and guests' needs.


In response to the question, "Is the crisis issue affecting owners' and managers' mental health" 21 businesses (or 65.63%) responded "yes", while 4 (12.50%) were unsure.


"Alarmingly, 75% of the businesses surveyed indicated "burn out or stress affecting their teams' mental health if the worker shortages were not resolved".


"This is unacceptable and immoral", says Mr Mooney.  


"Milford Sounds is one of New Zealand's most popular visitor attractions and iconic destinations. Businesses are grateful for the return of international visitors, but to now find themselves unable to offer those visitors the world-class experience they expect due to workforce shortages is blame squarely to lay at the Government's policy failures.


"I have persistently advocated for the Government to resolve these issues on behalf of businesses in my electorate during the worst labour shortages in 50 years in our country's history.


"In addition to writing to the Minister for Immigration and Tourism about the impact of the worker shortages on businesses and communities in my electorate, I have also actively met many hospitality providers on the ground to offer them support.


"Just today, I have again written to both Ministers to share the devastating survey results with them as a demonstration of the results of their policy failures on businesses and livelihoods.


"A few weeks ago, Minister Wood was sitting across from me during the General debate in Parliament when I asked what the Government intends to do about the situation. There was no response", Mr Mooney says.


"When my colleague and Spokesperson for Immigration Erica Stanford joined me at a meeting with businesses to hear first-hand their stories of despair, comments on our regular social media posts certainly reflect the general public sentiment.


"Labour has failed businesses by being too slow to act on this crisis”, says Mr Mooney.


"They chose to do an immigration reset during a worker shortage crisis and kept the Skilled Migrant Category closed all year.


"Equally, their changes in August this year to the Working Holiday Visa came far too late, with many working holiday visa workers leaving the country before the changes came into effect.


"Many offshore Working Holiday visa applicants cannot come to the country until 2023 at least, and the application fees have doubled. In the meantime, businesses in my electorate continue to struggle financially and mentally.


"Labour needs to explain why it has taken so long to do something about this dire situation, while skill shortages have continued to hurt Kiwi businesses, driving up consumer prices and holding back the economy.


"Labour should have adopted National's plan to refund application fees, raise the age limit to 35 years, immediately open applications to all countries we offer a Working Holiday Visa, and allowed anyone who has already had a Working Holiday Visa to apply for a second and third visa if they work in tourism, hospitality or agriculture.


"Fiordland businesses have paid the price for Labour's policy failures, and Labour will have to face the music next year when the country scores their actions", Mr Mooney says.



The Ensign Column - Joseph Mooney MP - October 2022

October 13, 2022 Share

Despite the recent cold snap, it was evident during my recent Meet your Local MP meeting in Gore that spring had truly arrived as we experienced three seasons in one day.

A key message I heard throughout the day was that we need farmers to do well to keep businesses busy and folks in jobs.

It was also great to see families out and about making the most of the school holidays, which also benefits our local businesses.

Local elections have ended, and hopefully, you exercised your right to have your say in who represents you around the table when decisions are made about you, your family and your community.

There are important conversations to be had on the Government's current reform programme, including Three Waters and winter grazing regulations and what it means for local communities.

On October 14, shadow spokesman for local government Simon Watts and I will host a series of Three Waters meetings, including one in Gore at 1pm.

Labour is ignoring the pleas of local communities by pushing forward with its reforms.

This is despite the Office of the Auditor-General delivering a scathing indictment of the Three Waters reforms. In a submission to a Parliamentary committee, the Office of the Auditor-General said the proposed Three Waters changes would result in "a serious diminution in accountability to the public for a critical service" and "no proposed audit scrutiny".

The Government has had opportunity after opportunity to consider alternatives to its reforms and the views of local councils. Still, they've decided they know best, and our communities will pay the price.

Their true agenda is one of a centralised, one-size-fits-all model, with less local voice for our communities.

The economic benefits of this model remain unproven, and the alternatives have been ignored.

We would like to hear your thoughts on this issue and hope you can join us. Simon and I will also share National's views on why the Government's proposed model doesn't make sense, won't work for our communities, and why a future National Government will repeal Labour's Three Waters legislation.

The South needs fresh thinking for the next decade of Healthcare – Opinion Editorial – Joseph Mooney MP

October 12, 2022 Share

News of fears that the Southland Hospital is on the verge of collapse reflects the angst created by a combination of this Labour Government’s historic incompetence with building hospitals big enough to service the region’s growing communities and, more recently, to adjust its immigration settings to ensure a health workforce sufficient enough to serve them adequately.

When I met health and cancer advocate Melissa Vining of Blair Vining’s Epic Journey, she outlined concerns with Southland Hospital operating under immense challenging conditions. This is despite doctors and nurses on the front line excellently trying to keep the fort while there are severe staff shortages.

Consequently, the paediatric assessment unit has been closed for three weeks, high-risk orthopaedic patients are being flown to Dunedin Hospital at the cost of $10,000 per flight, and cancer patients wait well over the Ministry of Health recommended timeframes for treatment.

The Southern part of New Zealand has long been at the back of the queue for its health services and strategic infrastructure planning. This is while the region has a history of punching above its weight in contributing to the country’s economy. Still, its healthcare needs have often come as a second thought to Government decision-makers.

The new healthcare reforms were promised as an opportunity to end the postcode lottery style of healthcare provision, which has badly let down the South in the past, and we need to ensure that this opportunity isn’t lost.

Dunedin has a Base Hospital, and it is clear that a new hospital there is needed, although incredibly, no soil has yet been turned on building it. In addition, it is reported that it could have 58 fewer beds and two fewer operating theatres than initially planned.   Specialists are already warning that Dunedin hospital will be too small for existing needs as the Government talks about reducing the build.

Medical professionals say this would be a disaster and a replay of what the Helen Clark-led Labour Government did in 2002 with the Invercargill Hospital when the then Health Minister Annette King deliberately underbuilt the hospital for the population size at the time. She relied on forecasts that Southland’s population would reduce by 3,500 people by 2015. Instead, Southland’s population grew by tens of thousands. Not only that, but Southland Hospital has to cater for much of Queenstown-Lakes population, which could peak at some 117,000 people on a given night pre-Covid.

Queenstown-Lakes has a well-deserved reputation as the Adventure Capital of the World. However, that status also means an endless stream of injuries from skiing, mountain biking and other adventure activities, all of which have to go to either Southland Hospital or Dunedin Hospital.

Southland Hospital, which is already straining with more people in Southland than it was built for, also caters for the population of Queenstown-Lakes and Central Otago. That often means that people who are wait-listed for surgery are bumped at the last moment for injuries from various sporting-related injuries.

Pre-approved plans for a new operating theatre and bigger emergency department at Southland Hospital have stalled and are under review by the Government’s newly merged Health NZ entity.

Queenstown-Lakes is already the second fastest-growing area in the country, and Central Otago is not far behind.  We should also not forget about the health needs of towns like Te Anau, Gore and Clyde.

Currently, flying to Auckland from Queenstown is faster than driving to Southland Hospital or Dunedin Hospital.

It is not fair to the residents of Dunedin and Southland hospitals to be displaced by trauma victims and others from Central Otago and Queenstown-Lakes being flown and driven 2-3 hours south to take beds meant to be allocated for them. Equally, it is not fair to the residents and visitors of Central Otago and Queenstown-Lakes to be flown or driven long distances across often icy or snow-covered roads for 2-3 hours to a hospital far from their homes and support networks.

With the return of international tourism, it is probably not long before we see a rise in the population of Queenstown-Lakes alone on any given night.

There needs to be a fit-for-purpose strategy for healthcare facilities and staffing required to service Central Otago Queenstown-Lakes healthcare needs, not a one-size fits all approach. 

Some courage in leadership and vision is needed to improve our healthcare services, and there is no better time than now to map out a triangular strategic vision for Dunedin, Southland and Central Otago Queenstown Lakes that will serve our region well for the coming 10-20 years.  Building never gets cheaper, and populations never get smaller.

Critical opportunity for feedback on Govt's agricultural emissions plan

October 12, 2022 Share

Joseph Mooney, MP for Southland and Associate Spokesperson for Agriculture, encourages the people of Southland to ensure their voices are heard as the Government consults on its proposed plan to price agricultural emissions.

"Farmers and rural landowners will be disappointed by the Government's failure to acknowledge that New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon-efficient food producers globally in its recent announcements on agricultural emissions.

"Our farmers make a significant contribution to New Zealand's economy. Agriculture earns more than half this country's export revenue, and they deserve credit where it's due", Mr Mooney says.

"Farmers I have spoken to have expressed serious concerns that the consensus they thought they had reached with the Government to best manage and reduce emissions on the farm through the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership was largely ignored.  Instead, the Government came up with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move offshore.”

Mr Mooney says Labour's plans to reduce sheep and beef farming and production by one-fifth in five years, is simply unacceptable.

"What Labour is saying is one-fifth of our sheep and beef farmers will be gone by 2030 and on top of that, there will be a five per cent reduction in our dairy farmers too during the same period. 

"That is just ridiculous, and the reductions could counter-productively lead to higher global emissions as more sheep and beef production moves overseas to less-efficient farms, potentially contributing to worsening the food security crisis already being experienced globally.

“National supports New Zealand's emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. New Zealand needs to cut its carbon emissions. And that means reducing agriculture emissions over time.

"However, National would also ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.

"We backed the sector-led He Waka Eke Noa process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions, including the use of new technology. Farmers should be able to earn credits for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. 

“National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their land, who will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.

"Long-lasting change requires broad and enduring support. Consensus with farmers is vital, and failure by the Government to fully consider the impacts of their plan could potentially have disastrous consequences for farmers, rural towns and their communities.

“I strongly encourage anyone interested to make their voice heard and have their say in the conversation on agricultural emissions through the public consultation process”, Mr Mooney says.

The consultation runs until 18 November 2022

Hanley's Farm public meeting on NZ Post delivery failures

October 07, 2022 Share

A public meeting planned on the lack of New Zealand Post (NZ Post) delivery services to the Hanley’s Farm area, Queenstown reflects the community's strong sentiments around the ongoing postal service failure in the area, says local Southland MP Joseph Mooney.

"I've been working with resident representatives of Hanley's Farm, the Hanley's Farm Mail Delivery Group, to highlight residents’ concerns with NZ Post's failure to deliver mail there after the group's negotiations with the state-owned enterprise reached a stalemate.

“We have arranged a public meeting on the issue that will take place at Te Kura Whakatipu o Kawarau - Primary School at Hanley's Farm, Queenstown, on Monday, 17 October 2022, at 6pm.

"When I first looked into this matter in 2021, I understood that NZ Post's service delivery decisions were based on accessibility for their vehicles to the area, amongst others.

"It has since transpired that the Government's postal deed of understanding with NZ Post has not kept up to date with residential growth in areas like Hanley's Farm, resulting in residents not receiving the mail delivery service they are entitled to.

"It is part of a trend we are seeing under this Labour Government with government departments failing communities with inadequate and outdated service delivery plans.

"I've written to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises and asked several Parliamentary Written Questions about what the Government intends to do to ensure NZ Post maintains its minimum service obligations to the Hanley's Farm community.

“The Minister’s answers suggest the last time the public were consulted on the outdated postal deed was nearly a decade ago in 2013, so the public meeting will be a great opportunity for residents to make their voices heard and demand the postal services that they are entitled to", Mr Mooney says.

Invitations to the public meeting have been extended to NZ Post, the Minister for State Owned Enterprises, the Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, RCL Group (the developers of Hanley's Farm) and Queenstown-Lakes District Council. 


Notes to Editors:  Written Questions Replies 19677 (2022), 19679 (2022), 19680 (2022), 19681 (2022) and 19682 (2022) attached.

Govt must delay winter grazing regulations - Joseph Mooney MP

September 08, 2022 Share

The Government is about to pile up to $100 million of unnecessary compliance costs onto farmers because its freshwater regulations are more than a year overdue, National’s spokespeople for Agriculture and Water, Barbara Kuriger and Joseph Mooney, say.

“Under Environment Minister David Parker’s regulations, farmers must have a certified freshwater farm plan for winter grazing on sloping land. If they do not have a certified plan, they must obtain a resource consent.

"Two years after the regulations were passed, the Ministry for the Environment has not completed the framework allowing farmers to certify freshwater farm plans. Officials have indicated the framework will not be ready this year.

“The regulations have already been delayed by David Parker twice, but are now due to come into force in November. Because the guidelines will not be ready, many thousands of farmers will have no alternative but to apply for resource consents for their winter grazing.

“Officials say as many as 10,000 resource consents will be required, while industry estimates are higher. Each application could cost up to $10,000.

“The total cost to New Zealand’s farmers could be $100 million if David Parker continues to sit on his hands.

“Most of the affected farms are in Southland, Otago and Canterbury, but farms will be affected in most parts of New Zealand.

“With New Zealand’s farmers already facing the highest inflation in more than 30 years and sharply rising interest rates, adding $100 million in unnecessary costs is a kick in the guts for New Zealand’s most productive sector.

“The worst part of this is that forcing farmers to apply for consents is unlikely to achieve any environmental gains.

“If New Zealand’s regional councils were to suddenly receive 10,000 applications, the consenting teams would inevitably be swamped, meaning the process would likely become a box-ticking exercise.

“Farmers are looking at paying up to $100 million for an expensive tick box exercise to cover David Parker’s failure to get these regulations sorted. It is outrageous.

“This Government cannot deliver anything. David Parker should put the new regulations on hold for a further 12 months while his officials get their process sorted.

“National supports moves to improve freshwater management, but New Zealand needs regulations that are fit for purpose”, says Mr Mooney.

Media contact: Connie Giquel, 027 230 1499