Well we were presented with the first Budget this month from this sole-charge Government and now that they've got shot of their handbrake, what a lolly scramble it was for some. Few of us will begrudge support for those who need it most but there is absolutely no plan to recover our economy – in fact Finance Minister Grant Robertson proudly outlined his expectation that by 2025 we will be almost $200 Billion in debt, over three times as much as last March.
The Bay of Plenty electorate is home to 24,330 constituents aged over 50 – that is more than half of the electorate. Yet this year’s Budget provided no meaningful assistance to those people who quietly get through life with determination … tradies, self-employed, local workers, the elderly, the disabled, the working poor who chose not to have children due to lack of a permanent home.
And the public sector workers who kept our community operating safely and efficiently during last year’s lock downs? They’ve had their pay frozen. These members of our region have been forgotten by a government who has chosen to borrow more money to build more government rather than support more businesses.
This is ridiculous at a time when orchardists and pack houses are crying out for workers. There was once a time when MSD required jobseekers to pick and pack fruit in season rather than collect the dole. This government has decreed that no sanctions will be applicable to those who choose not to work. Instead of helping business owners to sell more produce, to earn export dollars, they’ve announced a reduction in international work visas while making it even less attractive for local unemployed people to take up these jobs.
Business owners are the employers we need to be supporting. They have suffered so many hits in the last year, from lock down restrictions to minimum wage increases, doubling of paid sick leave, and another paid day off next year. This month’s Budget was yet another blow to the employers of our region. The cost of produce will simply have to increase to keep up with higher costs and this will likely wipe out the $20 per week that the poorest members of our community will gain in July.
Next week I will be hosting the Leader of the Opposition, Judith Collins, on a visit to the Bay of Plenty electorate, including a dinner on the night of Thursday 3 June. There are limited places still available and this is a great opportunity to meet Judith in person and hear her post-Budget commentary and views about the current state of New Zealand's economy and other key topical issues. If you're interested, reply to this email and my team will send you details.
Below you can see updates of events, people and issues that I've encountered over the last few weeks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you out and about.
MP for Bay of Plenty
A Night for Oscar
Thank you to Sarah Clark, Melanie Taylor and everyone in Papamoa who came to support a very special fundraising event last Friday at Golden Sands School. Student Oscar Bisman has fought hard against Leukaemia but has recently suffered a recurrence. The Bismans have done so much for Papamoa families and it's impressive to see how wholeheartedly the community has come together in support of them while they base themselves in Auckland for Oscar's treatment at Starship. I'm proud to be a part of the caring community in Papamoa where we all look out for each other. There is a fundraising site to help the family - neither Sarah nor Gav can work from Auckland - and if you'd like to contribute, the page is at https://givealittle.co.nz/.../the-baddies-are-back-oscars.... I know you will join me in sending best wishes to Oscar for a successful outcome to his stay at Starship.
Petition for Rural Internet
Many of us are lucky to have high-speed fibre internet in our homes and offices but this is not the case for those in rural communities like Lower Kaimai and Omanawa. Please support Wayne Lowry's petition to get rural fibre connected for the folks who really struggle with slow and patchy internet - it makes life very difficult for kids to do homework and for parents to work from home or run businesses in the area. Wayne's petition closes on Monday and we'd really appreciate your signature here on the Parliamentary petition website.
Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club Opening
It was a great pleasure to attend the official opening of this fabulous new asset for the community of Papamoa that will serve locals and our many thousands of visitors. Thank you to Jim Pearson and Andrew Hitchfield for their commitment to bringing this project to completion, and to everyone who has donated, sponsored or assisted in the development of the new surf life saving base.
Papamoa Volunteer Fire Brigade
Congratulations to the Papamoa Volunteer Fire Brigade for their success in the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge. Their team raised $8,617 for supporting sufferers of blood cancer and leukaemia by climbing up the Sky Tower wearing firefighting kit and carrying 25 kgs each of gear. What an incredible feat, well done to you all for your strength and community spirit. Donations are still open here if you'd like to help out the Papamoa team's fundraising.
Law and Order
I appreciated having MP for Pakuranga Simeon Brown spend time in the Bay of Plenty yesterday. As the Opposition Police Spokesman he enjoyed connecting with local Police at a community meeting I held in Papamoa and we also had a ride around with the Papamoa Community Patrol. This is a local initiative operated purely by volunteers who are the eyes and ears of Police and provide a vital service helping keep our community safe. Thanks to Debbie, Japie and Bernz for inviting us and thank you also to Ebbett Tauranga for providing the vehicle that makes it possible.