It has now been over seven weeks since New Zealand entered lockdown. Together, we have played our part and there are now very low numbers of cases being reported each day alongside no new cases in the SDHB area since April 18 and no new cases in the South Canterbury DHB area since April 17.
We are now in alert level two allowing us to travel domestically, visit friends and family, go to restaurants and bars (bars from May 21) and schools have re opened.
I understand there was a lot of frustration out there in regards to not being able to attend church services and that limits on funerals and tangi remain at 10. I am pleased that the hard work by the National Party to change this was successful and the Government has now allowed funerals and tangi for up to 50 people.
COVID-19 has significantly impacted our communities. Many kiwis have lost their livelihoods and are hurting. Everyday we are hearing stories of the hurt and the human impact of the lockdown, over 1000 people a day have applied for the benefit with over a 267% rise in beneficiaries in the Queenstown-Lakes District alone with rises over 20% in the rest of the Waitaki.
Our electorate was always going to be hard hit by COVID-19 given its reliance on tourism and unfortunately there will be more job losses to come as businesses go over their books and realise their operation is no longer viable. I am pleased we can now travel domestically under Level 2 and this will come as a relief to many businesses. I am pleased that Air New Zealand have resumed flights into Timaru Airport from June 8 as this is a key airport for access into our region.
We have as huge task ahead as a country to repair our economy, restore our livelihoods and open up jobs. National has created a National Recovery Agenda to address our challenges with our leader Simon Bridges outlining a package designed to support small businesses in their recovery.
National's COVID-19 Business Package
On Tuesday last week we announced the first part of National's economic recovery agenda.
National announced two new policies to support small businesses and help them boost jobs and investments. National would:
- Offer a GST cash refund of up to $100,000 to small businesses worst affected by Covid-19– based on the GST they paid in the 6 months to 1 January 2020. We estimate this could benefit up to 160,000 businesses and save countless jobs.
- Temporarily lift the threshold to expense new capital investment for firms to $150,000 for two years. For example, if a company spends $145,000 on a new machine to improve its productivity, rather than depreciating that asset over many years, it will be able to expense the full $145,000 in this tax year.
You can read Simon Bridges’ full speech here <[link removed]>
Level 2 means my electorate office in Oamaru is now open. My wonderful team have extremely busy while working from home and have been very busy supporting many people during the lockdown. I am looking forward to seeing people as they come into the office.
Parliament has been sitting in Wellington for the past three weeks. It has been a busy time and I have been lucky enough to sit on the Epidemic Response Committee to hear the concerns of many across the country.
Parliament is in recess next week so I will be back in the electorate. I am looking forward to being able to travel domestically across the electorate hearing from constituents and supporting our businesses.
I was lucky to be back in Oamaru for weekends under Level 3 and able to support many of our small businesses. They are our lifeline in this community. I look forward to supporting many more next week.
Thank you to the gorgeous Alice from the Riverstone Larder for my wonderful soup.
I was so happy to support our local businesses in Oamaru. Thank you to the Harbour Side Collective for a delicious coffee.
Standing with Carol and Shelley, the amazing staff at Preen in Oamaru. A great shop where I am still a very loyal customer.
I’m sure like me, many of you would have been eager to hear the Budget announcement yesterday.
There were some positives that came out of it such as an increase in trades training and an emphasis on controlling pests such as wallabies and wilding pines.
However I do have some serious concerns - the tourism industry is desperate for meaningful support, money was allocated but apart from a domestic marketing campaign there was scant detail on what practical assistance will be given to what is the hardest hit industry.
It’s important to remember that it’s not just tourism operators suffering here. In some towns around this electorate, schools, shops and services have been built around the workforce that caters to overseas tourists. The pain runs deep and people in those towns need clarity around what is to come and they need it now.
The budget was also a missed opportunity for investment in water storage which brings environmental gains and enhances productivity – something we desperately need now that the Government has bequeathed the country $140 billion debt. There is money that has yet to be allocated and I will push hard for water based projects in this electorate to be given the green light.
Big decisions are being made and we need to know that every dollar is being spent wisely. A clear and coherent plan for the recovery of the economy would be a good start.
It is important for us to continue supporting each other during this time. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me and my office if you need any help at all. A reminder you can call 03 434 7235, reply to this email or email [email protected]
I hope to speak and see many of you (from a safe 2m distance!) next week.
Hon Jacqui Dean
Waitaki Electorate - New Zealand
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