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
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