Now that Parliament has wound up for this term, I thought it would be a good time for me to check in and let you know what I’ve been up to and what the next few weeks have in store.
As has been the case for much of this year, COVID-19 has put the kibosh on many of the events and meetings I’d planned to attend around the electorate over the past four weeks. But you have to find a way to get things done, so I’ve been busy talking with constituents over the phone to discuss some really important issues to them and their community.
Where possible, I’ve caught up with local business owners and members of the farming community impacted by COVID-19. Each encounter is a reminder of the daily struggle faced by many. Kiwis are battling hard and they desperately need more certainty about the road ahead.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to meet with people involved in the housing sector to get up to speed in my new role as National’s spokesperson for housing and urban development, as well as making some visits relevant to my responsibilities as conservation spokesperson. I've been campainging in Rotorua, Wairarapa and East Coast, we have some fabulous candidates up there who will make great MPs following the election.
But now that the election campaign is officially underway, I’m ready and raring to go. I look forward to jumping in the truck to head around the electorate and meet with as many people as possible.
As my diary can change at fairly short notice, I’ll post regular updates on where I am and what I’m doing on Facebook <[link removed]> – we’re in for a heck of a ride!
Pukaki fire a frightening sight
The fire that took hold around Lake Pukaki recently was shocking to see. Emergency responders in the air and on the ground did an amazing job to prevent wide-spread property loss and worse. Their efforts were outstanding and so to was the action taken by the Twizel community. Within hours, food was being donated by businesses and individuals to feed those battling the blaze – something that I know was very much appreciated.
Smoke from the fire in Twizel. The fire burned for many days, thank you to our incredible fire fighters for their hard work and determination.
A mighty Mitre 10 Mega
At a time when positive business news is hard to come by, it was wonderful to go along to the opening of the new Mitre 10 Mega store in Oamaru last month. It looks great and I’m sure it will prove very popular.
Very excited to be at Mitre10 Mega!
I’ve been getting to know the new National candidates in our neighbouring electorates. Megan Hands is flying the blue flag in Rangitata and Joseph Mooney in Southland. I visited Seasonal Solutions in Alexandra with Joseph a couple of weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed his company.
With Megan Hands, National's awesome new candidate in Rangitata.
School strike for climate change
I attended a Q&A session with representatives from the Waitaki School Strike for Climate Change group this week. It was a good opportunity to share thoughts and views about what is an important subject for many people.
Speaking at the Climate debate in Oamaru.
I thoroughly enjoyed spending a day in Waimate recently and appreciated the warm welcome from the teachers and toddlers at the early childhood centre. There are some really interesting things going on in Waimate at the moment. But of course the big talking point has been the local lads making the final of the Hammersley Cup senior rugby competition. A narrow loss to defending champs Temuka a case of ‘so close yet so far’!
Campaigning in Waimate
It’s no secret that agriculture has stood tall amid the chaos this year and the sector is key to rebuilding our economy. I hosted National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett in the electorate at the end of August and together we visited fruit exporters in Cromwell. I also met with Filipino workers at a farm in the Hakataramea Valley - visa issues have been a problem and National knows how important it is to keep farming operations running at full capacity during these difficult times.
At a cherry packers in Cromwell with David Bennett.
What a load of rubbish
Picking up rubbish may not sound overly exciting but as I found recently, it can actually be quite therapeutic! I joined a group of people taking part in a clean-up at the Oamaru Cape and thoroughly enjoyed being out in the fresh air and getting stuck in.
With Ethan from SS4C Waitaki.
Road sealing fund good for electorate
This electorate has more than its fair share of unsealed roads and that’s why I’m delighted that the next National government will establish a dedicated, ring-fenced fund of $15 million a year to seal roads. This will see more local roads sealed, with more paid for by central government.
It’s that time again
Some people hate campaigning but I genuinely enjoy it. Getting out and having a yarn with people as you hand out flyers can be very enlightening – I always learn something new! I really appreciate people taking the time to talk with me and encourage anyone who sees me out and about to come and say ‘hi’.
A big thank you to the Young Nats for campaigning with me in Palmerston. They are so helpful and are wonderful volunteers.
It warmed my heart to open the weekend paper to a fantastic opinion piece about Oamaru - "The best wee town in New Zealand". I for one have always known this to be true, but as kiwis start to traverse their own backyard its wonderful to see they are discovering this stunning part of the world for themselves.
Read the article here <[link removed]>.
Summer is on the way..
Great to see the Waitaki Lakes district is about to come alive again, with camping grounds on Lake Benmore and Avimore officially opening this weekend.
No Tolerance for Methamphetamine in the Waitaki
I was disappointed but sadly not surprised after the Oamaru Mail revealed the number of methamphetamine related court proceedings had increased throughout the district. It reflects the terrifying trend throughout the rest of the country with police seizing 26 percent more methamphetamine in May 2020 than the previous year. This is not us Oamaru, we need to pull together as a community to stamp out this small minority who are creating this fear and addiction throughout our region.
Just last week our Leader Judith Collins announced National’s comprehensive plan to tackle methamphetamine use from all angles, addressing both demand and supply. We aim to re-establish the social investment approach across the justice system, making sure the impacts of crime are addressed, as well as the causes of it. Methamphetamine use and drug crime is simply an unacceptable future for our families in Oamaru and the Wider Waitaki and we must all take a hardline approach now to ensure we reverse this worrying trend.
National promises to double-lane Upper Orari Bridge
This week, Transport Spokesperson Chris Bishop announced that a desperately needed upgrade to the Upper Orari Bridge will take place under National. I have supported local residents in their campaign to get this double-laning project underway and am delighted that National Leader Judith Collins and Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop have committed to making it a reality if National is elected.This bridge has been the site of too many accidents, near misses and hold-ups. The Geraldine Community Board, Timaru District Council and local residents consider this bridge a priority and so does National. The current Government won’t upgrade the Upper Orari Bridge, but National will.
National will protect New Zealand’s backyard
Last month I was privileged to announce National's conservation policies in Taupo with leader Judith Collins. National is committed to protecting and preserving our world-class landscapes so that all New Zealanders can experience and enjoy them.
I am so proud of our policies that support pragmatic conservationism.
- Establish two new National Parks – one on the Coromandel Peninsula and one in the Catlins, alongside two new Great Walks. These will be formed on existing conservation land
- Re-commit to the ambitious Predator Free New Zealand 2050 goal
- Work constructively with Iwi on the establishment of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, alongside further marine reserves
- Ensure New Zealanders are able to continue to enjoy access to recreational fishing, whitebaiting and hunting
- Update the 1993 Tahr Management Plan to ensure its stays true to its principles of balancing environmental needs with commercial and recreational hunting opportunities
- Provide $15 million in DOC funding to predator-free sanctuaries that have been devastated by a reduction in international visitors and public donations due to Covid-19. This will help sanctuaries such as Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Wellington’s Zealandia and Dunedin’s Orokonui Sanctuary continue their crucial work
You can read more of our polices here <[link removed]>.
With leader Judith Collins announcing our Conservation policies at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.
Campaign debates acrosss the electorate:
Please join me at any of the below debates to hear me debate National's policies and my role as Waitaki MP with other candidates from different parties.
Ranfurly, Wednesday 16 September -7.30pm, Mainiototo Park Rugby Clubrooms
Wanaka, Wednesday 23 September -9.30am, Corbridge Woolshed Wanaka, RSVP to 03 434 7325, I will be joined by Southland candidate Joseph Mooney
Alexandra, Wednesday 23 September - 1.30pm St Aidans Church Hall, I will be joined by Southland candidate Joseph Mooney
Pleasant Point, Thursday 24 September, 7 or 7.30pm, exact location TBC
Oamaru, Tuesday 29 September, 7pm, hosted by Jim Hopkins, exact location TBC
Palmerston, Monday 5 October 7pm,East Otago High School
Please check all details before hand with event organizers or on Facebook or call my office on 03 434 7235 as you may have to RSVP for contact tracing purposes and level 2 limitations.
I am looking forward to the rest of my campaign for the Waitaki electorate and hope to see as many of you around as possible.