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 - Facebook, Instagram 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.