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not Sheeps" campaign to highlight the plight of communities in parts of Queenstown disadvantaged by the Government's outdated Accommodation Supplement subsidy rules.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.
Do you like this page?