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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."

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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.

 

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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 https://environment.govt.nz/publications/pricing-agricultural-emissions-consultation-document.

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. 

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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

Worst worker shortages in 50 years but no Govt plan to fix

September 08, 2022 Share

New Zealand is experiencing the worst worker shortage in at least fifty years. And it's hitting businesses in my Southland electorate very hard.

It's no surprise that our daily news feeds are increasingly flooded by stories from businesses worried about their livelihoods due to the ongoing worker shortage.

Everyone I talk to would love to hire someone locally, who isn't there with the biggest workforce shortages in nearly five decades.

Nearly every day, the issue of chronic worker shortages and immigration issues are being raised with me by hospitality, accommodation and tourism operators, contractors, plumbers, and farmers and growers, to name just some of the industries affected.

The stories are all too common. Small businesses are highly distressed due to spending a signification part of their day trying to recruit staff. Still, they are left overworked and understaffed despite paying wages at the top end. Recruitment agencies say they have no workers available on their books.

Businesses report experiencing problems with the Immigration New Zealand website, and glitches in the system result in them having to resubmit applications numerous times. The immigration system is complicated and has resulted in extensive processing delays of visa applications. It means prospective employees cannot commence work for months in many cases.

Hospitality operators say they find the 'job check' requirement just another layer that Immigration NZ has introduced, making an already complicated process even more challenging.

Farmers are saying they have to work exceptionally long hours, with calving underway but insufficient workers to do all the jobs on the farm. Fruit was left rotting on trees last summer due to a lack of pickers, and there are growing concerns that this will happen again in the coming summer without enough seasonal workers and backpackers.

All of them have one thing in common. Loss of income and diminished livelihoods, all because they want to operate successfully but can't due to a lack of staff.

For many businesses, having a steady income means getting ahead under their own steam and looking after their families and employees. They don't need to rely on the Government to keep them afloat.

When businesses thrive, they don't just thrive for themselves and their families. They thrive for the prospects of their children, their communities, and the local economy.

A lack of continuous income due to having to close for days on end due to a lack of staff means less food on the table, clothes for the kids, and petrol in the tank. It means those families struggle to pay bills, the rent, and the mortgage.

There is a global war for workers, with other countries competing for Kiwi workers. Still, our Government has made it more challenging with its "immigration reset" for Kiwi businesses to compete for that talent that everyone needs right now.

The negative outflow of people from New Zealand is exacerbating our labour shortages. We are 4,000 nurses short, and the Government won't give them an immediate path to residency like in Australia.

It is just as perplexing that as we open our doors to international tourists again, and our overseas workers are an essential piece of that puzzle, the Government is making it more difficult to recruit from abroad.

We need a government to help businesses create real jobs and access the workforce necessary to fill those jobs.

We need an immigration system that doesn't act like a police force but instead as a recruitment agency for the talent our country needs.

Instead, their approach seems set on enforcing make-believe immigration policies on businesses for make-believe workers in a make-believe world.

The Government needs to put this right and give businesses the confidence they need to grow and invest in their workforce.

When businesses have that confidence, they create jobs for real people that put food on the table, provide clothes for the kids, and pay the bills for families up and down my Southland Electorate.


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The Ensign Column - Joseph Mooney MP - September 2022

September 08, 2022 Share

Spring is here, and this gorgeous season represents joy, hope, renewal and growth. It is lovely to see the daffodils out in bloom!

It's a busy time for our farming sector midway through calving and lambing, and our growers will be looking forward to harvesting their crops as summer is fast approaching. I do hope the Government engages early with the sector to ensure a sufficient number of seasonal workers available to cover the harvesting period.

The freshwater regulations come into force at the start of November. Under the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 regulations, farms using intensive winter grazing must have either certified freshwater farm plans or apply for resource consent.

But despite the looming November compliance date, the Ministry for the Environment is yet to publish guidelines meaning none of the affected farms can develop their plans. This means thousands of farmers face uncertainty around whether to plant crops for winter grazing next year as it will require everyone to go through the costly and time-consuming process of applying for resource consent.

The worst part is that forcing farmers to apply for consent is unlikely to achieve any environmental gains.

National supports moves to improve New Zealand's freshwater management, but the current regulations are not fit for purpose. We will be pushing hard against these unworkable regulations and regulatory overreach. There needs to be more emphasis on local solutions rather than a one-size fits all blanket rule.

Three Waters remains high on the agenda too. At recent select committee hearings, many councils raised the issue of the Government's massively overblown costs over $3 million of hard-earned taxpayer money spent on promoting a flawed Three Waters policy.

The Government should be listening. I'll keep fighting on behalf of our community to make the Government accountable to you on Three Waters, and National will repeal and replace these broken reforms.

On another note, congratulations to the Hokonui Huanui Project on its recent launch. I am excited about the support this project will offer tamariki and rangatahi in their journey from birth to adulthood. I look forward to hearing more about their successes over time to come.

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The News Column - September 2022

September 08, 2022 Share

Alexandra hosted its first-ever South Asian Cultural Festival, and it was a privilege to speak at the opening and announce the poster competition winners. Some of the artwork by our local school children was quite incredible! Congratulations to the Arasan NZ Trust, who organised a great community event in partnership with Welcoming Communities and the Central Otago Regional Council.

Calving is in full swing too, and with lambing on the way, it is a busy time for farmers. The primary sector is the backbone of our country, bringing in $52b in revenue last year, and we are grateful for the hard work of our farmers and growers.

It is still a time of struggle for many though, as New Zealand is experiencing the worst worker shortage in at least fifty years. 

Talking with growers, there will be another significant workforce crunch this summer unless something is done. Minister Stuart Nash's recent comments regarding backpackers not being the ideal tourist as they travel on a shoestring budget, weren't encouraging as backpackers typically provide a lot of the seasonal workforce in Central Otago.

The Government needs to engage with the industry now to resource the seasonal workforce to ensure the fruit doesn't just fall on the ground again like it did last summer.

Farmers are also reporting issues with the freshwater regulations coming into force at the start of November. Under the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 regulations, farms using intensive winter grazing are required to have either certified freshwater farm plans or apply for a resource consent.

But despite the looming November compliance date, the Ministry for the Environment is yet to publish guidelines meaning none of the affected farms are able to develop the plans. This means thousands of farmers face uncertainty around whether to plant crops for winter grazing next year as it will require everyone to go through the costly and time-consuming process of applying for resource consents.  The worst part of this is that forcing farmers to apply for consents is unlikely to achieve any environmental gains.

National supports moves to improve New Zealand’s freshwater management, but the current regulations are clearly not fit for purpose.

National will be pushing hard against these unworkable regulations and regulatory overreach. There needs to be more emphasis on local solutions rather than a one-size fits all blanket rule.

The 65th annual Alexandra Blossom festival happening later this month is definitely something to look forward to.  It's New Zealand's longest-running festival, starting in September 1957. Hopefully, you and your family look forward to enjoying the many activities.

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