Hello and welcome to my regular community newsletter – an important tool for me as your local MP to keep you connected with the work I am doing here in the Bay and around the country on your behalf. Over the last few weeks so much has happened, both from a local and a national perspective.
The genuine and heartfelt response to the terrible violence in Christchurch on March 15th has been astounding – an act intended to tear our country apart has instead pulled us closer together. For me, there was no more powerful statement of community love and support than attending our small, local mosque here in Tauranga in the weeks following the event, and being a part of the silent statement of solidarity.
There were no grand speeches, just the local Imam humbly and emotionally thanking the hundreds for their presence amidst the silence of collective sadness. It was an immense privilege to be there with my family.
It has been a very busy few months here in the Bay and my great local office team in Papamoa have been working around the clock to assist and support locals who are trying to navigate through the challenges of Government bureaucracy.
I am continuing to push hard for investment in our community services and infrastructure, including supporting locals like Judy Killalea who is petitioning for a 24 hour medical centre in Papamoa, Jo Linthwaite who is petitioning for a new secondary school, and of course Fix the Bloody Road who are pushing hard for the Tauranga Northern Link to actually start.
We need to keep our voice strong because our community is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing regions, but it is not getting the investment it needs. Development must be hand in hand with services and infrastructure or we are putting our quality of life and community experience in jeopardy.
I hope you all enjoyed your Easter break with family, attended our superb local ANZAC commemorations and now are kicking into the winter months with real vigour.
Please feel free to connect with me if you have an issue that I can help with or a view you need me to hear – I am always willing to listen. I have lived here since I was 5 and my passion is to make our community one of the safest, healthiest and prosperous in the country - all without losing its friendly relaxed and casual scene.
I look forward to seeing you out in our community.
Welcome Bay Business Breakfast
One of the highlights of my year is to speak at our local Welcome Bay Business Breakfast because it’s where I delivered my first ‘real’ speech as your MP following the 2014 election.
I’ve spoken at the event every year since. This year I spoke about leadership and how increasingly the public is wanting to see
politicians put politics aside and work together on issues to get the best outcome for NZ.
Thank you to Anna and the team at Welcome Bay Community Centre for putting on a great event – and for all that they do in our community. Here I am with Stan Gregec, Arron Judson and Anna Larsen.
Life Jackets for Our Local Schools
This summer I donated 120 lifejackets to local schools in the electorate for use in water safety programmes.
As a community we need to take a firm line when it comes to making sure children have lifejackets, and are wearing them, before we head out on the water - just like we do with seatbelts before a car trip. As far as I’m concerned, one preventable death on the water is one too many. Above is Benjamin Hooker in his new lifejacket.
International Women’s Day
Recently I attended and supported the International Women’s Day with Shakti Tauranga. I have huge respect and admiration for the journey that these extraordinary women have been through, living that courage day- by-day, it’s quite remarkable. Here I am with Karyl Gunn who has self-published an inspirational book called ‘My Story’ which speaks to the effect of family harm and the importance of having this conversation.
Golden Sands School Visit
I recently stopped by Golden Sands School to connect with the local Principal Melanie Taylor, teachers and students. Melanie is very connected to her community and has a real drive to deliver what’s best for our children and their families.
As our community continues to grow we will continue to see increased pressure put on school rolls – it’s absolutely vital that investment keeps pace with population growth. I’m pictured above with Melanie and some of my younger constituents.
BestStart Omokoroa Opening
I had the privilege to officially open BestStart Omokoroa with Wayne Wright. The Wright family have lived in Omokoroa for over 30 years and have contributed immensely to our community through their much respected Wright Family Foundation. They are driven to making a positive difference in the lives of our children and communities.
Real Impacts of Capital Gains Tax
I have met with many locals like Kristie Phillips from Pahoia to hear first-hand their concerns about how the proposed CGT will impact families and their lifestyle blocks. We are going to fight hard to oppose these taxes which will hurt our local communities.
Connecting with Local Businesses
Recently Simon Bridges and I went to have a chat to our local business McLeod Cranes. A once-full pipeline is feeling the strain for our contractors as infrastructure projects are cancelled or put on hold. This will have huge flow on effects for the workforce, communities, investment, and our capacity as a country to carry out major projects at pace. With us above are Scott McLeod, Phil Hutchinson and Sam Taylor, my Bay of Plenty Youth MP.
Omokoroa Secondary School Petition Update
I was privileged to have the opportunity to support local resident Jo Linthwaite and her team of Karen Loten and Greig Neilson as they presented to Parliament’s Education Select Committee. The committee was considering Jo’s petition calling for a new secondary school northwest of the Wairoa River.
They spoke with real passion about the growing needs of our community. The next step is for the Committee to report back to Parliament – watch this space.
Papamoa After Hours A+E Healthcare Petition Update
On the 5th of March I presented to the House the petition of local resident Judy Killalea, calling for the Government to provide funding for an after-hours Accident and Emergency healthcare facility in Papamoa.
This will now be discussed by a Select Committee but I’ll be sure to keep our community updated. Judy and her team have done a fantastic job collecting thousands of signatures to send a clear message that our community needs this investment.
Photo credit BOP Times
State Highway 2 Update
State Highway 2 continues to be a huge issue for our local community – particularly the delayed and diluted construction of the Tauranga Northern Link.
The road is congested, deadly and no longer fit for purpose. It’s an issue the Government wish would simply go away – but they can’t hide from the facts. The previous National Government promised the road, we approved the funding, and construction was due to begin last year – but here we are, a year later, with nothing to show for it, apart from waffle about more public transport.
Our community has been fantastic keeping the pressure on the Government and sending a clear message
that we expect investment to keep pace with growth. A huge amount of recognition needs to go to the team
at Fix the Bloody Road who have run an excellent grass roots campaign. I’ve being doing what I can to support, through a petition presented to the House of Representatives, a submission with Andrew Hollis to the Transport Select Committee and a highly visible billboard campaign over the summer period to remind all of our holiday visitors just how dangerous the road really is.
Climate Change Portfolio Update
The climate debate is heating up.
Alongside my work as the local MP for Bay of Plenty I also have the additional responsibility
of being the National Party Spokesperson for Climate Change. As part of this role I have hosted public meetings to discuss the Government’s proposed Zero Carbon Bill and what this might mean for New Zealand.
National is taking a principled approach to climate change to ensure that environmental protection and economic growth go hand in hand as we transition New Zealand to a low carbon economy. The key principles at the heart of our thinking are:
Science-based: New Zealand’s targets must be based on the best available science that assesses the three key greenhouse gases and their impacts independently.
Technologically driven: We achieve emissions reductions by adopting new technologies rather than reducing sector activity.
Long-term incentives: Financial signals will place incentives on business, consumers, and entrepreneurs who will lead this change.
Global response: New Zealand’s response is on pace with our global trading partners.
Economic impact: We’ll seek to minimise economic impacts, in particular actions that place an undue burden on single regions.
This legislation is looking to be a key focus for the Government this year so it’s absolutely critical that we get it right.
That’s why I’ve been working in a bipartisan way with my counterpart, Hon James Shaw, to negotiate the establishment of an independent and non-political Climate Change Commission to take the short-term politics out of a very serious and long-term issue. I remain engaged in that good faith process and am optimistic we will land on something that works for New Zealand.
This newsletter will be delivered to letter boxes in the Bay of Plenty electorate. You can download a copy here.