Sarah's Southland Scoop - October 2015

Invercargill news
Thursday, October 1, 2015

One year on
In my maiden speech I was reflective as to how I became a representative for this electorate and now, a year on, I find myself doing the same as to what I have learnt and achieved. Influencing GPs in the city to provide free doctor’s visits for under-6s was perhaps my biggest success of the year and now with the extension of the policy to 13 year olds, this will provide real benefits for families. I am so pleased about the extension of paid-parental leave, giving parents more time to bond with baby and financial support in those first vital weeks and the first real increase in benefits for family households in more than 40 years. As a mother, I view these wins as huge! The next year is going to be just as busy and I look forward to sharing more information about these as things develop. Ultimately however, helping constituents is what the job’s about and it is incredibly rewarding when we get wins across the line for you - the people of Southland.

Youth Parliament
I am pleased to have selected my Youth MP Callum Findlater. A speech competition was held at the Ascot Park Hotel, where the four finalists presented a speech and pitched a policy on one of four topics, which included immigration, conservation, vulnerable members of our community and the economy. The calibre of the finalists was fantastic! Southland moving forward will be well represented by its youth and all of the young finalists will be excellent ambassadors for the south as they move into their careers. Callum Findlater, 17, of Ryal Bush, will represent Invercargill at Youth Parliament in July next year. I will help him run constituency clinics and other forums to help him gather views from his peers in preparation for Parliament and give him a taste of the job. He will also be invited to enter in an essay competition after the completion of his tenure. I will also spend time with each of the other finalists to help them understand what it means to be an MP and foster their interest in politics.

Rules Reduction Taskforce
The findings from the Rules Reduction Taskforce are out, and show real opportunities for both central and local government to make life easier for new Zealanders. I’m really pleased to see the findings of the taskforce after such a well patronised series of meetings including that held in Invercargill. Not only is this an interesting stock take, but certainly sets an agenda for moving forward especially in the planning sphere. Pointless rules are holding people and businesses back and costing them money. The work starts now! The Government will be working with local government to fix rules that aren’t working as they should.

The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is very positive for Southland and all of New Zealand and it’s going to be a real boost for our economy. It’s all about giving our exporters, whether they’re farmers or manufacturers, access into the big consumer markets of the world on a more equal footing with local supplies. Our farmers, horticulturists, wine growers and manufacturers are equal to the best in the world, and they’ll get benefits from TPP. It will save New Zealand exporters around $259 million a year in tariffs that they are currently having to pay just to get their products in these markets. That’s money they can now spend growing their business, and employing more New Zealanders on higher wages.