This is the time of year when my winter newsletter normally gets distributed to households throughout the Bay of Plenty electorate. In previous years I would have described events I’d attended and constituents I had connected with. But this winter, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been no large gatherings or community engagements and the only meetings I’ve been to were electronic. So it seems appropriate to reflect upon what our community has been through and what I expect we have ahead of us.
For some, the pandemic prevention measures were stressful, scary and confusing. Others used the lock down to embark upon new hobbies or exercise regimes. Many kept working as their roles were deemed essential - those people on the front lines did an incredible job dealing with difficult situations in hospitals, call centres, supermarkets, rubbish trucks and pack houses, to name just a few.
Others in our community stepped up on a voluntary basis, helping the elderly and vulnerable people in our society, delivering food and medication to those who couldn’t leave their homes. During lock down my team and I reached out to constituents and business owners to check on their wellbeing and I was proud to learn that our people in the Bay of Plenty had been so caring and supportive of each other under such difficult circumstances.
My team and I have compiled a selection of support services available locally and these are listed at www.toddmuller.co.nz/covid19.
Our country’s lock down has left some industries bereft of customers and I fear we will see many businesses close down; while the wage subsidy has been extended for some employers, other significant costs still have to be covered at a time when our export markets are slow and overseas visitors are not coming. Growing unemployment will reduce the discretionary income in our local markets so we have a huge challenge ahead.
The recently announced apprenticeship and training fund may help people transition into new jobs, which is good news for our primary sector who have traditionally lacked domestic workers with the dairy, horticulture and agribusiness skills required. This is an opportunity for New Zealanders to develop new careers and appears to have positive long-term potential.
All of us will find our lives altered by the effects of Covid-19. New Zealand is better positioned than many countries for a swift recovery as long as the right economic strategies are put in place.
We must support our own local and domestic producers, service providers and retailers. I am confident that, here in the Bay, we are in a great place to support, if not lead, New Zealand’s economic recovery and regeneration.
Shop local, save jobs, be positive, and encourage your family and friends to holiday here in the Bay. We’ll give them a warm welcome.
Until next time,
MP for Bay of Plenty