It's hard to believe summer is now behind us, we have autumn here and the year is a quarter gone. This month has been very full with lots happening both in Parliament and in the electorate.
My Members Bill was drawn from the Biscuit Tin this month, which means, if the other parties support it in Parliament, we are a step closer to having enforceable SPF standards. It's extraordinary that here in New Zealand there's no guarantee that what the package says is reflected in the product's actual SPF protection.
Thank you to the thousands of you who signed my petition to open consultation before this summer's ban on recreational fishers around the reefs off Motiti Island. Following its presentation to Parliament the petition has been referred to the Environment Select Committee. Opportunities for submissions will be announced at my petition page. .
Four years after this government promised to address the housing crisis, they have announced their new policy this week. What they have done, against their earlier promises to leave tax levels alone, is to increase the Bright Line Test to 10 years and remove interest deductibility. This means that owners will be taxed a greater amount; landlords will likely hold on to houses twice as long and increase rents to cover higher costs. Tenants will have a longer wait to buy their own home because more of their income will go to rent than saving for a deposit and fewer investment properties will be available for sale.
If you’re a first home buyer you’re eligible for special assistance, such as accessing your KiwiSaver and a small grant, but there is a cap on the price you’ll be allowed to pay for your first home - here in Tauranga it can cost no more than $525k, or $600k if you build a new house. There is currently a shortage of building products; builders are struggling to get timber, nails and other key items that go into new homes so building a family home will be just as difficult as finding an existing house within the cap.
Here’s another thing: home buyers are competing with the Government as they buy up existing properties for social housing tenants, who pay just a quarter of their income on rent. Of all the houses that Kainga Ora owns, more than 2,000 of these are priced over $1 million each. I’ve had a number of constituents ask me why they are bothering to maintain good credit ratings and excellent rental references when they could just be housed in luxury properties courtesy of the tax payer.
Best wishes to you for an enjoyable Easter, whether you are taking a break, catching up with family or travelling around New Zealand. Thank you keeping us all fuelled/fed/safe/entertained if you are amongst the many who will be working through the long weekend.
MP for Bay of Plenty
Looking back at March ...
Earthquake and Tsunami Safety
Many of us had a rough awakening earlier this month and spent worried hours waiting to find out whether coastal residents needed to evacuate - many didn't wait and took straight to the Papamoa Hills. Happily Papamoa and Mount Maunganui were out of the danger zone and the rest of New Zealand remained above water. But this has reignited my anger that we still don't have tsunami warning sirens in key locations. I raised the issue with the TCC Commissioners this morning and will be following up to learn more about when tsunami sirens may eventually get installed after too many years of waiting.
Papamoa After Hours Medical Services
Pete Chandler, CEO of the Bay of Plenty DHB, provided a helpful update on local health services. We also spoke about the ongoing proposal to establish after-hours medical and accident care in Papamoa. Pete advises that we may have a further update in May and we are planning a meeting for local residents to hear about this and other community updates. RVSPs will open soon at toddmuller.national.org.nz/papamoa.
Opposition Covid Response Spokesman Chris Bishop joined me on a visit to Show TV in Mount Maunganui. They have been disadvantaged by Ministry of Health rules that prevent them from running their consumer events throughout the recent alert level changes. While Auckland shopping malls can open in Level 2, Darryl and Phil cannot run their home shows, despite operating strict contact tracing through ticketed pre-sales. They recently presented a petition to Parliament and I'm sure you agree that the rules need changing so that all events that can demonstrate robust contact tracing should be allowed to operate as long as shopping malls can. Once the petition gets to Select Committee interested parties will have the opportunity to provide submissions during the hearing process.
Welcome Bay Public Meeting
It was great to catch up with residents of Welcome Bay on the 9th of March at the Community Centre. We appreciated the update provided by Senior Sergeant Eddie Lyttle about local crime and recent arrests following a spate of thefts over recent months. We also heard from Cam Hill of Good Neighbour about their growing range of community support solutions. If you would like to help this amazing group of volunteers, I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. Leonard Lorek of Neighbourhood Support talked about the value of knowing your neighbours and helping keep each other safe through setting up street networks.
There are only a few days left to sign Welcome Bay constituent Sarah-Jane Lawrence's petition that calls on the Government to fund additional police for the suburb. If you agree that Welcome Bay needs increased police resourcing, you can put your name on her petition here and follow its progress through Parliament.
Kaimai Public Meeting
I really enjoyed meeting local residents at the Kaimai School Hall on the 29th of March. We were joined by constituent Wayne Lowry and representatives from Ultra Fast Fibre and Evolution Networks to talk about options to access local internet. Wayne is launching a petition for the Government to roll out fibre for affordable and stable broadband in their rural community. Constable Leanne Fairbairn shared updates on local crime, which include theft from letterboxes and outbuildings as well as vehicles. As in all areas, speeding cars and burnouts are an ongoing issue and Leanne advises that even if you think a crime is minor, it's still worth filing a 105 report or of course to phone 111 in an emergency.
Prize opportunity for young New Zealanders
Entries are now open for the Change Makers' Prize, a competition to inspire young people across New Zealand to voice their opinion on an issue that affects them or their community.
Offered by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and Parliamentary Service, the competition aims to get young people thinking and talking about issues they’re passionate about, enhancing their understanding of Parliament and the change they can create now, and in the future, as engaged citizens.
The competition asks students to imagine they are giving a speech to Parliament and to submit a short video of that speech in which they express their opinion on their chosen issue and the action they think Parliament could take to address it.
Please refer interested young people to the contest page here.