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Govt Better Work Action Plan for tourism workforce not action enough

August 30, 2022 Share

The Government’s draft Better Work Action Plan for the tourism workforce released earlier this month is a shining example of this Government’s inability to prioritise the real issues which face many businesses in my Southland electorate says local MP for Southland, Joseph Mooney.

“Everywhere I go, I hear of severe staffing shortages resulting in businesses having to reduce hours, close for days at a time, and some may close for good because they can't get staff.

"New Zealand is facing its biggest worker shortage in fifty years and to make matters worse, the Government's immigration settings continue to make it harder for businesses to get staff from overseas.

“The Action Plan is high-level and almost entirely theoretical.  Some ideas proposed in the plan will have almost no impact on the current worker shortage in Southland.

"Instead, the Government needs to make it easier to hire workers from overseas as the immigration hurdles that this Government continues to put on New Zealand businesses amid a global war for talent, are extraordinary and incredibly short-sighted.

"While National believes this plan should be halted until the current labour shortage is solved and tourists are coming back to the country at pre-COVID levels, I will encourage businesses to have their say on the draft Action Plan. 

“Submissions on the draft plan are open until 14 September 2022 and a range of in-person and online workshops have been scheduled. While the Queenstown workshops have already taken place, submissions can still be made online.

“Together we can persuade this Government to focus their attention by urgently addressing the worker shortage issue and give businesses in my Southland electorate a fighting chance.”

Media Contact: Connie Giquel 027 230 1499               

Note to editors:  Draft Better Work Action Plan consultation document can be found at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/have-your-say/better-work-action-plan/

Space Matters to Kiwis and NZ Inc

July 23, 2022 Share

Opinion - by Joseph Mooney MP, Spokesperson for Space

We are seeing the emergence in New Zealand of a new globally significant and world-leading high-tech sector in Space.  Space as an economic enabler, offers unique opportunities to deliver economic benefits and high-value jobs not only in our major cities but also in regional New Zealand.

As we celebrated International Moon Day on July 20 this year, it was fifty-three years ago in 1969 that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon.  

Many of our ancestors travelled to these islands guided by the stars. In 2018, New Zealand became only the 11th country in the world to send a rocket into orbit. Fast forward to 2022, and New Zealand has become the fourth most frequent launcher on the planet. This year marked our first nationwide public holiday Matariki celebrating our historical connection to the stars.

It is incredible that only four years after New Zealand first sent a rocket into orbit, NASA chose to launch a spacecraft from New Zealand to the Moon.  I was at RocketLab Mission Control when they launched the CAPSTONE Minisat spacecraft.  It is headed for the Moon as part of the Artemis project by NASA that aims to return humanity to the Moon, land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon, and from there send humans to Mars.

I also had the privilege of being on board the last mission to New Zealand by the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) aircraft, a flying observatory as it flew towards Antarctica.  It was fascinating to see the complex mission in action and the passion of everyone involved as they looked 1,000 light-years across the Universe at things like "star nurseries".  Past SOFIA missions have seen the discovery of water on the sunlit surface of the Moon and the Universe's first type of molecule called the Helium Hydride.

On both occasions, I was reminded of just how far New Zealand has come as a world-leading space-faring nation, and the huge potential for our country to make the most of the opportunity. 

Space as an economic enabler

The Space industry in New Zealand is already fully operational, productive and developing fast.  

Over the last twenty years, I have observed with close interest the birth and development of what is called "New Space". Peter Diamandis established a space competition called the Ansari X Prize, offering a $10 million prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable crewed spacecraft into Space twice within two weeks. That was won in 2004 and has stimulated the "New Space" industry, which is the commercialisation of the Space sector.  

NZ has been quick out of the blocks to build a New Space industry from scratch and rapidly become a leading nation in this sector.  According to an MBIE report in November 2019, the New Zealand Space sector was already worth $1.75 billion. Some say it is already worth more than the wine industry in New Zealand.  Space directly supports an estimated 5,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles and indirectly supports 12,000 FTE jobs.

Space is rapidly becoming a key industry internationally too, as countries increasingly understand its significance. 

In the United States, Space is considered of such importance that the National Space Council is chaired by the Vice-President and includes the Secretaries of State, Agriculture, Defense, Labour, Transportation, Energy and Education, as well as the Assistant to the National Climate Advisor and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Interestingly, the National Party is currently the only political party in New Zealand that has a Spokesperson for Space.

As that Spokesperson, I believe in the opportunities that technology, science and Space hold for a better New Zealand and the benefit of our daily lives.  I am regularly engaging with industry leaders, scientists and academics both in New Zealand and Australia to hear more about their lessons learnt and ideas for Space. 

How does Space benefit us?

Space capabilities provide critical data, products and services that drive innovation worldwide. They advance our understanding of the Earth, the Universe, and humanity, create good jobs and economic activity, enhance our health and well-being, and inspire us to pursue our dreams. 

Data from satellites provide services that underpin many of the daily conveniences Kiwis have come to expect in banking, telecommunications, security, transport and climate change monitoring. Services like internet access, GPS connections, weather forecasting, and emergency management to track large fires, to name a few. 

The agriculture industry benefits from Space technological advancements that allow farmers to monitor their cows' movements and crops' health through apps that rely on satellite data, thereby increasing productivity while reducing their environmental footprint.

Satellite data also offers the opportunity to be a game changer for how New Zealand manages one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones, as well as our responsibility for one of the world’s largest search and rescue areas spanning 30 million square kilometres from Antarctica almost to the Equator.  We are a small country with limited resources and can only send out a small number of planes and boats to monitor the oceans that surround us. Low earth orbit satellites are an increasingly cost-efficient technological enabler which can provide a data-rich oversight of these zones.

Earth's environment and atmosphere, that 'thin blue line' is a precious commodity which must be monitored and protected.  Earth observation from space captures meteorological data enabling better management of our planet's environment.  Space technology can help our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet our international obligations around global warming and climate change.

Leveraging our Kiwi ingenuity 

New Zealand is already a leader in technology. We have a proud tradition of punching above our weight, from our famous no.8 wire mentality to our sports teams, to Ernest Rutherford the Kiwi scientist who split the atom. 

It was a Kiwi that invented the electric fence. Today, one merely needs to tap an app on your phone, and cows stay in their paddock solely because of a virtual, invisible fence that works through a satellite in the sky, another Kiwi invention.

We must ensure that our decision-makers now recognize that ingenuity and potential with a regulatory framework that supports and leverages our unique position.

Leading the way

Space offers opportunities for both urban and regional New Zealand.

For example, in the South Island Space Operations New Zealand provides ground communications support for launches and satellite missions from its Invercargill and Awarua facilities near Bluff. It was one of the ground stations that supported the recent CAPSTONE launch.

The Xerra Earth Observation Institute in Central Otago has plans to develop satellite data products to drive regional economic growth.  NASA first started launching super-pressure balloons from Wanaka as far back as 2015.

Christchurch is home to a burgeoning space industry with notable players such as Dawn Aerospace, who have developed green propulsion systems for small satellites, and are developing a new aircraft that could revolutionize access to Space with a reusable vehicle that can take off and land from standard airports. Kea Aerospace is building solar-powered, remotely piloted aircraft that will fly for months at a time in the stratosphere. 

And, of course, Southland-born and raised Peter Beck founded RocketLab pioneering New Zealand's ascent to Space.  The business is growing rapidly with its manufacturing facilities in Auckland and the world’s first and only private orbital launch site in northern Hawkes Bay.

Reviewing what is working and what is not

The challenge will be maintaining a peaceful use of Space as the resource becomes more contested.  New Zealand is already known and respected for its global diplomacy. Our unique launch capacity gives us an ideal opportunity to contribute to the rules and norms that can facilitate the peaceful development of Space. 

The Government is reviewing the operation and effectiveness of the law controlling New Zealand's space commercial space activities, the Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Act (OSHAA Act) that came into being in 2017.  

A separate study on broader space policy issues with a public consultation process later this year will ask questions about "the peaceful, sustainable and responsible uses of space and what this means for space activity in New Zealand, and the recognition of Māori interests in space."

I hope the process will also explore initiatives for maximizing the enormous commercial potential and advantage New Zealand already has to be a game-changer on the global space industry stage.

The role of universities and other training institutions in developing the future space workforce is critically important too. When Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, Director of the Space Institute in Auckland, joined me on a Facebook Live broadcast recently, his passion for creating opportunities for future leaders in the space industry was inspiring. 

It reinforced the importance of supporting stem subjects like science and technology at school and beyond, and the role of Space in inspiring children to engage and develop an interest in STEM subjects from a young age. We must invest more in science and technology than we have in the past, as that is the world's future.

Now is the time for a cohesive action plan, working with the industry and educational facilities to develop a roadmap outlining our strategic direction to support the Space sector in New Zealand.

Why should we invest in Space, some may ask?  The short answer is “Because Space matters to Kiwis”.  The opportunities for NZ Inc to prosper are limitless. 

ENDS

 

 

 

Clutha Leader Column Joseph Mooney MP - July 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

School holidays are here, and Parliament is also in recess for a couple of weeks. Like many of you, I, too, look forward to spending some valuable time with family before hitting the ground running again later in July.

I enjoyed my visit to Tahakopa School in the Catlins recently. While the school currently only has three pupils, size is no impediment to their success! The students won a national writing prize, and the school is well resourced. They certainly put their 3D printer to good use using designs from the internet. 

It was great to take some time to catch up with Owaka Police Officer and Search and Rescue member Senior Constable Murray Hewitson. Murray’s 18 years of service to the community is commendable, and his hard work and dedication certainly appreciated. Poaching remains an issue, and Murray and his team are committed to tracking down and prosecuting offenders.

Carbon farming and forestry are issues front of mind for many in the region and the potential impacts on local communities such as school rolls.  

Water is also front of mind, and local farmers I met say regular testing of water at the source of catchments will provide helpful, robust data on nitrogen levels in rivers versus what farms are contributing.

At the same time, the Government is ramming through its Three Waters agenda with the Water Services Entities Bill before a Select Committee of Parliament. The bill lays out the final plans for establishing a complex and unaccountable bureaucracy. If passed, the bill would see their Three Waters plans bundle water assets into regional mega-entities out of local community control. 

The four entities will be controlled by a complex and unaccountable bureaucracy comprising representative groups co-governed 50% by local council representatives and 50% by mana whenua. There is still some time to submit on this bill by 22 July at https://www.national.org.nz/three-waters.

I am planning a public meeting in August on the water issue and will be communicating more details in my August update and through social media.

The shortage of midwives across our region remains high on my agenda. Recent media coverage of the issue suggests a 45 per cent vacancy rate for midwives across the Southern region. Mothers and their babies deserve world-class care to give children the best start in life.

We have called on the Government to fast-track nurses and midwives through the immigration system and not wait until September for the system to come into force. 

You, too can make your voice heard on this issue at https://www.national.org.nz/fast-track-more-nurses-and-midwives.  

ENDS

 

The Ensign Column Joseph Mooney MP - July 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

School holidays are here, and Parliament is also in recess for a couple of weeks. Like many of you, I too, look forward to spending some valuable time with family before hitting the ground running again later in July.

Reliable connectivity as a critical infrastructure must-have for our rural communities has recently been a topic of much discussion in the community. Local legend has it that New Zealand's first phone call was made 145 years ago, in 1877, from Roxburgh to a local station using equipment given to the station owner by Alexander Bell!

I hosted Melissa Lee List, MP and National Spokesperson for Broadcasting & Media, Digital Economy and Communications, at a public meeting in Roxburgh to discuss broadband connectivity and mobile coverage issues in our region. Thank you to everyone who came out to join in the conversation.

People living in isolated rural areas without sufficient connectivity face becoming "digitally excluded" from society as modern lives move online.  Poor local internet services and at times no access to high-speed data affect some people's ability to work and educate from home too.

Parliament will debate digital exclusion and connectivity in the coming months, and I will ensure our local community's voices are heard. Rural communities must not be left behind when it comes to reliable connectivity.

Staff shortages, fair pay agreements, rising inflation, interest rates and living costs are also issues front of mind at the moment.  

I will be co-hosting an "Off the Clock" Networking Drinks with the Southland Business Chamber at the Croyden Lodge on 20 July, where we will discuss these and more. Please join us at the event, registration details can be found at www.southlandchamber.co.nz.  

While out and about in the electorate the past few weeks, I also attended the Southland Primary Schools Cross-Country event at Waimumu near Gore. It was a beautiful day for it and a fantastic event for our local students and their families. Well done to all involved, from participants to the organisers and many businesses supporting the event.

News of Rector John McKinlay of Gore High School's retirement will be met with sadness by many, but his outstanding 43-year teaching career is commendable and something to celebrate. We wish John and his family all the very best in his well-deserved retirement.

Finally, congratulations to Kate Heffernan, who has been named in the 12-player Silver Ferns squad and javelin thrower Tori Peeters who are heading to Birmingham next month to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

We are proud to claim you as two of our own. Well done, Kate, and  Tori and we will be sure to watch you in action at
the  Games.

ENDS

 

The News Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

Digital exclusion of rural Southland must not be ignored

Reliable connectivity, whether digital or mobile coverage, is a critical infrastructure must-have for rural communities in our Southland region that can no longer be ignored.

People living in isolated rural areas and without sufficient connectivity face becoming “digitally excluded” from society as modern lives move online.  They face barriers to participating fully in society due to connectivity issues.

Their digital exclusion challenges include poor local internet services, no access to high-speed data and an inability to work and educate from home, or the ability to make an emergency call when needed.

With COVID and lockdowns, many more Government and other services have moved online.  

As well as the increasing need for online transactions to pay taxes or bills or for grocery shopping, many have also turned to connecting socially online.

The inability for some to do so reliably serves to highlight just how deficient some areas in our region are of reliable connectivity infrastructure.

Every part of New Zealand should have quality connectivity and mobile coverage and that includes our Southland region.  

Parliament will be debating the issue of digital exclusion and connectivity in the coming months, and I want to ensure our local community’s voices are heard.  

With the future increasingly becoming digital, everyone must have the tools they need to be a part of our digital world.

We must take urgent action to uplift rural connectivity and ensure communities affected can get online and have sufficient mobile coverage.

Melissa Lee, List MP and National Spokesperson for Broadcasting & Media, Digital Economy and Communications, will be joining me at a Public Meeting to discuss broadband connectivity and mobile coverage issues in our region.

We would like to hear about people’s personal experiences and challenges with connectivity where they live. 

We want to ensure our rural communities are not left behind when it comes to reliable connectivity and digital inclusion in our society.  We hope you can join us and share your thoughts and ideas for solutions to the connectivity issues we face.

Information on the meeting can be found on my website at josephmooney.national.org.nz/events.

ENDS

Lakes Weekly Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

Celebrating Southland volunteers 

Every day, throughout the Southland Electorate, committed people give their time to help others generously.

It's appropriate, therefore, that there is a week dedicated to celebrating volunteers in our communities. 

As the Member of Parliament for Southland, it is a privilege to use this year's National Volunteer Week to thank our volunteers for all the hard work you and your organisation do for and in our communities.

Volunteering is very much part of the Kiwi way of life. It is estimated that more than 1.2 million Kiwi volunteers contribute in myriad ways to their fellow man through sport, arts and culture, conservation, health, social services, police, or education.

That is more than one million New Zealanders, averaging over 3 million hours every week, who provide a backbone to community development and help change the lives of many by giving back to their community.

The Southland electorate is no exception.  

This year's theme is 'Time to reflect, Dream, Shine. This is a theme evident in the many ways volunteering activity occurs around our region. 

Mahi aroha, doing work for love, is happening all around us. 

Whether it is by helping out at the Sally's Op-Shop, feeding many through Baskets of Blessing or providing advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

There are also many opportunities to volunteer support to causes through the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group and the Queenstown Trails Trust.

Volunteers support the work of the Queenstown Police Prevention team at the newly re-opened Arrowtown Police Station.

The Southern Wellbeing Trust and community partners' workshops supporting mental health and wellbeing, have also been popular with volunteers. 

Whatever the cause, this week allows us to capture the essence of that volunteering spirit, where people connect in their communities and help make them better places to live in.

National Volunteer Week is an excellent time for first-timers to give volunteering a go – to be an active member of your community and help others.

Organisations like Te Atamira embrace the role that volunteers play, from assisting in front-of-house operations, special projects, behind the scenes opportunities, or at public events.

Volunteer South will be hosting a volunteer expo at Te Atamira on 21 June in partnership with Kiwi Kit Community Trust, if you’d like to find out more visit https://volunteersouth.org.nz/organisations/events 

Let's take the opportunity together, to say a heartfelt "thank you" to the volunteers of the Southland Electorate and the organisations they work with for their part in making a difference. 

We appreciate you. 

ENDS

Southland Times Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

RURAL SPECIALIST HEALTH SERVICES IN CRISIS

Rural health overall is in crisis in our region. The Government’s plan to address this crisis is to replace the 20 District Health Boards with a crown organisation, Health New Zealand, through its Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill which comes into effect on 1 July 2022.

The Minister of Health Andrew Little’s sudden introduction of an amendment to his Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill at the very last minute called a "Rural Health Strategy", demonstrates the urgent need for addressing the inequalities of our rural health workforce.

The Minister has previously been quoted as saying that his "Government is committed to building a new national health system so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live."

Any rural health strategy must recognise that rural communities and the rural health care workforce, including midwives, nurses and the aged care sector, have unique challenges.

I recently met with the NZ Aged Care Association where they cited underinvestment by the Government and a lack of policy or funding mechanisms to increase the supply of care beds to meet increasing demand and complexity of needs, as big issues for the sector. Another priority issue that needs addressing is the turnover of Registered Nurses (RNs) of 48 per cent (an increase of 15 per cent since December 2019), and of caregivers (26 per cent).

With 2,200 FTE nursing vacancies currently across New Zealand, one proposed solution could be a focus on encouraging graduates, experienced RNs and Nursing Practitioner interns to view aged residential care as a desirable career choice.

These shortages also affect people needing specialist services, like cancer treatment.

Some cancer patients wait excessive times to be seen by a specialist, and the funding for cancer services has not kept up with demand.

Just like the Southland Charity Hospital, the Cancer Society has had to turn to seek donations to enable them to continue caring for patients in their care. 

I have also started a fundraising campaign for the Cancer Society to try and raise as much money as I can to highlight their plight. Should I manage to raise more than $1,000, I intend to jump out of a plane to show my support to those living with cancer and create a future with less cancer in our society. You can follow my journey at https://jumpforcancer.org.nz/joseph-mooney-mp.

While I welcome the Government coming to the table by including a 'rural health strategy' in their thinking, any such strategy must provide pathways to grow our rural health workforce and sufficiently fund all services to ensure good health outcomes for our local communities.

The re-opening of the ski fields this month will be a huge relief for many businesses in the snow industry.  Not only will it bring much-needed tourism dollars to our region, I am sure that like me, many of you can’t wait to get out there and enjoy the slopes too!  

ENDS

The Ensign Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

RURAL HEALTH STRATEGY CRITICAL FOR SOUTHLAND

The Minister of Health Andrew Little has suddenly introduced an amendment to his Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill at the very last minute called a "Rural Health Strategy".

This follows his announcement in March 2022 that his "Government is committed to building a new national health system so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live."

They aim to achieve this through the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill, which comes into effect on 1 July 2022 and replaces the 20 District Health Boards with a crown organisation, Health New Zealand.

However, what was glaringly missing was a focus on rural health in their reform plans for a national health system.

Rural communities and the health care workforce, including midwives, nurses and the aged care sector, have unique challenges.

The shortages in the sector impact the quality of care to communities in our region and the mental health and welfare of our rural health workforce.

Midwives who I’ve spoken to, say they find it hard to continue providing a world-class rural maternity service in rural areas due to their current working environment, and due to a lack of available midwives to service the whole region.

Aged Care is another sector who say they are in crisis. At a recent meeting with the NZ Aged Care Association, they cited underinvestment by the Government, lack of policy or funding mechanisms to increase the supply of care beds to meet increasing demand and complexity of needs, and the turnover of Registered Nurses (RNs) of 48% (an increase of 15% since December 2019), and of caregivers (26%), as some of the top issues they face.

One proposed solution could be a focus on encouraging graduates, experienced RNs and Nursing Practitioner interns to view aged residential care as a desirable career choice.

Overall, there are currently 2,200 FTE nursing vacancies across New Zealand.  These shortages also affect people needing specialist services, like cancer treatment.

Some cancer patients wait excessive times to be seen by a specialist, and the funding for cancer services has not kept up with demand.

Just like the Southland Charity Hospital, the Cancer Society has had to turn to seek donations to enable them to continue caring for patients in their care. 

While the Government has now come to the table by including a 'rural health strategy' in their thinking, any such strategy must provide pathways to grow our rural health workforce and sufficiently fund it to ensure good health outcomes for our local communities.

In the meantime, I have started a fundraising campaign for the Cancer Society to try and raise as much money as I can to highlight their plight. Should I manage to raise more than $1,000, I intend to jump out of a plane to show my support to those living with cancer and create a future with less cancer in our society.

I invite you to join my journey at https://jumpforcancer.org.nz/joseph-mooney-mp.

Clutha Leader Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share

RURAL HEALTH AND MATERNITY SERVICES IN CRISIS

The shortages in the maternity and rural health workforce impact not only the quality of maternity care of women and their babies in our region, but the mental health and welfare of our midwives.

In March 2022, the Minister for Health Andrew Little announced that his "Government is committed to building a new national health system so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live."

They aim to achieve this through the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill, which comes into effect on 1 July 2022 and replaces the 20 District Health Boards with a crown organisation, Health New Zealand.

Rural health has, however, largely been ignored in their reform plans.

I've spoken to midwives who say they face many unique challenges in providing a world-class rural maternity service in rural areas.

The existing midwifery workforce work long hours and need to cover more families spread geographically across the electorate. Some find themselves unable to take annual leave due to no-one to cover their time away.

Extended travel times in challenging conditions road and weather dependent, and at increased costs due to high fuel prices, all add to their challenges.

In addition, midwives say they have limited health service backup for transfers of mothers and limited access to the same diagnostic and other referral services that their urban counterparts have access to.

Combined with the lack of professional development opportunities available, it is no wonder we are losing midwives out of our region.

The problem extends far wider than midwives, too, with 2,200 FTE nursing vacancies across New Zealand, affecting aged care sectors too.

The nursing shortages place an additional burden on midwives, who often have to work longer hours, or on their days off to cover for nursing staff unavailability.

When all these factors are considered together, the maternal workforce crisis can potentially put patient welfare at risk.

The first 1000 days of a baby’s life is critical to their future development and quality of life, as is maternal wellbeing in the first few days after birth. The essential role of midwives in providing pre-and postnatal care to both mum and baby cannot be understated. 

District Health Boards are responsible for ensuring an accessible and equitable maternity service for women, their babies and their families.

The Southern DHB had previously instigated a sustainability package for some rural areas. 

This package proved effective, helped retain the lead maternity carer midwifery workforce, and ensured pregnant and birthing women received appropriate and timely services.

Unfortunately, the withdrawal of many elements of this package has contributed to these workforce issues in the region. 

The Government also needs to explain why $60m of the Maternity Action Plan funding was redirected to health sector reforms when that money is sorely needed by the maternity health workforce, especially those who work in rural health.

Any health workforce development strategy must provide pathways to grow our local midwife workforce and address nurse staff shortages, as an essential enabler to achieving good health outcomes for our rural communities.

I will continue to advocate for our local midwives and rural health workforce in Parliament and make sure their voices are heard when it comes to future debates on the state of rural health in our region.

Parliamentary News from Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 03, 2022 Share

Dear Connie 

School holidays are looming, and the ski fields are open just in time for the many students and their families looking forward to a mini mid-year break, and bringing much needed revenue into our region. 

It's been a busy few weeks out and about from one end of the electorate to the other, supporting local initiatives and causes while advocating for our communities and businesses.

I enjoyed opening the historic A-Class passenger carrier in Lumsden as an information kiosk, the Registered Master Builders Association Carters Lower South Island Apprentice of the Year competition in Queenstown and attending the Southland Primary Schools Cross Country event at Waimumu near Gore. 

Some other memorable visits include the Manapouri Dam and Falls Dam.  During my visit to Falls Dam, Roger Williams, Operations Manager for the Omakau Area Scheme, talked us through the importance of balancing the needs of the dam - from maintaining dam water flow to looking after the Manuherikia River's health while facilitating water for irrigation and factoring in recreational users' needs too.


Petitioning local issues

I continue to advocate for our community by asking questions in the House and writing to Ministers to highlight issues in our electorate.

While not an exhaustive list, some issues in dire need of addressing include worker shortages in the tourism, health, midwifery, and aged care sectors.  

As New Zealand woke up to a new Health NZ entity replacing DHBs on 1 July, medical practices like the Fiordland Health Centre say they still need certainty around the disparities in funding by the Ministry of Health for urban and rural medicine.  

National has launched a petition imploring the Government to immediately add nurses and midwives to the fast-track, start the fast-track process immediately and ensure the process of gaining residence is complete within three months of application. 

You can show your support by signing the petition here


Cycle Trails and DOC concessions

Uncertainty around government regulations continues to frustrate some local community initiatives that could serve both as eco-tourist attractions to the region while meeting the recreational needs of the community.

The Te Anau Cycling club says they have funding to build a new cycle trail in Snowden Park. Still, some of the issues they face include Department of Conservation regulations that currently allow for upgrading trails but not for building new trails.

I have written to the previous Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan, inviting her to attend a public meeting with the community. I'll continue to advocate for this with the new Minister, Poto Williams.

At the same time, Te Anau has had almost no international tourists over the past two years. Businesses there rely on Department of Conservation concessions to operate in the Fiordland National Park.  But there is a lot of uncertainty about the effects on businesses of the Department's Conservation Management and Processes Bill currently under consultation.


Public meeting connectivity

For some rural parts of our electorate, reliable broadband and mobile coverage connectivity is a big issue.

Melissa Lee, List MP and National Spokesperson for Broadcasting & Media, Digital Economy and Communications, will be joining me at a Public Meeting in Roxburgh on 7 July for a discussion on this. We hope you can join and share your experiences with us. Register your attendance here.



Three Waters - Make a submission

Labour has tabled a bill to ram through its Three Waters Agenda.  The Water Services Entities Bill (Three Waters) lays out the final plans for establishing a complex and unaccountable bureaucracy. National has consistently opposed Labour’s water reforms, and if elected in 2023, we will repeal and replace Three Waters.  

Please add your voice to the Three Waters opposition by making a submission here. The closing date is 22 July.


Media and staying in touch with me

In case you missed it, read my recent columns and opinion pieces:

You can also listen to my regular radio interviews with Andy Muir from the Muster, Luke Howden from Hokoniu Breakfast, and Shane Norton, Radio Central.   

Or stay up to date with my activities by following me on social media - FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

I'm planning a series of Facebook Lives every month as one more way you can connect and engage with me.  Watch our first Facebook Live recently, where I hosted Professor Aglietti, Director of the Space Institute.    

I do hope you and your family enjoy the school holidays.  Please stay in touch and reach out if ever you need a hand.

Kind regards,

Joseph Mooney
http://josephmooney.national.org.nz/